Felon

Updated: Sep 27, 2017
  • Author: Jarod Fox, MD; Chief Editor: Steven C Dronen, MD, FAAEM  more...
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Overview

Background

Felons are closed-space infections of the fingertip pulp. [1, 2]

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Pathophysiology

Fingertip pulp is divided into numerous small compartments by vertical septa that stabilize the pad. Infection occurring within these compartments can lead to abscess formation, edema, and rapid development of increased pressure in a closed space. This increased pressure may compromise blood flow and lead to necrosis of the skin and pulp.

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Epidemiology

Frequency

United States

Felons and paronychias account for approximately one third of all hand infections. Thumb and index finger are the most commonly affected digits.

Mortality/Morbidity

With skin necrosis, spontaneous decompression may occur. When skin does not yield, osteomyelitis, tenosynovitis, and septic arthritis may result.

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