April 3, 2016 5:01:06 pm
James Franco sawing his hand off from under a huge boulder made for gripping cinema (in the 2010 movie, 127 Hours), as do a host of medical dramas where surgeons amputate a limb(s) to save lives. However, a Brazilian man who suffered from a horrific accident and expected to lose a hand, has received a ray of hope — thanks to surgeons who adopted a rare procedure to try saving his hand.
They have sewn Carlos Mariotti’s hand into his stomach — in essence burying it inside his abdomen and covering it with a protective flap of skin.
Mariotti was a factory worker who lost two fingers — his index and middle fingers — in the accident in which his hand got dragged into a machine that manufactures coil at a plastic factory. “It was like watching a movie play out in front of me. I saw the machine pulling my hand in and couldn’t do anything about it,” Mariotti said as he recounted the horrific experience to The Independent. When nobody responded to his cries of help, he himself wrenched out his hand from the heavy duty equipment — but not without heavy duty injuries.
According to report, orthopaedic and traumatology doctor, Boris Brandao — who performed the rare operation — explained, “(Marriott) suffered a de-gloving injury which left him with very little skin on the palm and back of his hand, exposing the bones and tendons inside.” Mariotti was brought to Santa Otilia Hospital with his hand wrapped in bandages by his fellow co-workers who appeared on the scene of accident a few seconds later. Brandao and his team decided to perform an immediate “salvaging” procedure because “if we can save a hand we always try to find a way to do so.”
“In order to keep the wounded hand alive, we opened the abdomen, took off the skin and put it inside the cavity to protect it. The patient’s hand must stay in the pocket for about 42 days to ensure it develops new tissue and tendon material which is capable of receiving a replanted skin graft,” Brandao explained. “Without this procedure, there would be a high risk of infection and the tissue and tendons would rot away,” he added. This means 42-year-old Mariotti must now keep his damaged hand inside the soft tissue pouch for six weeks.
Mariotti — who is still hospitalised — says, “I still get very emotional when I think about the accident. But, it was only when doctors told me I could lose my hand that I realised the gravity of the situation. When I woke up from the operation I didn’t know whether it was still there. I couldn’t believe it when they said they had tucked my hand inside me.” He has been told to gently move around his hand “to avoid [it] becoming stiff.”
“It’s a really weird feeling trying to wiggle my fingers inside my body and creepy seeing my tummy protrude slightly as I prod around,” is how Mariotti described life post-surgery. “I am just so grateful because at least I will still be able to hold a fork, grip a steering wheel and dress myself without any help,” he reflected.
Brandao said, “Mr Mariotti will suffer impaired function as he will not get all the movement back in his hand. But, he will have a working hand and will be able to do the pincer movement. At least this is a better quality of life compared to having an amputated hand.”
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