Dupuytren’s Disease is a thickening of the fibrous ligaments underneath the skin of the palm and fingers. These ligaments thicken and shorten so that the tendons connected to the fingers cannot move freely. Dupuytren’s Disease progresses slowly and is usually painless. The condition often makes daily activities such as washing, wearing gloves, and shaking hands, virtually impossible.
Until recently, the most common treatment for Dupuytren’s Disease was surgical intervention. This procedure consists of opening the skin over the affected ligaments and removing the tissue in the palm affected by the disease. The fingers may then regain normal motion.
Since the mid 1980s, Dr. Lawrence Hurst, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics at Stony Brook University Medical Center, and Director of the University Hand Center, has worked with his colleague, Marie Badalamente, Ph.D., Professor of Research Orthopaedics, to develop a nonsurgical treatment for Dupuytren’s Disease. Their laboratory experiments through the years led to extensive clinical trials, which proved successful. In February of 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an injectable form of the enzyme, collagenase, for the treatment of Dupuytren’s Disease. The injection of this enzyme softens and weakens the taut cord in the palm. The day after the injection, the hand is manipulated to break the cord and allow normal motion of the fingers.
Soon after FDA approval of this nonsurgical treatment developed at Stony Brook University Medical Center, the Dupuytren’s Institute was created at Stony Brook Orthopaedic Associates to further support patient care, research, and the educational aspects of this debilitating disease.
Dr. Hurst and his team of researchers have published many articles detailing their work, including a New England Journal of Medicine publication in September of 2009. They have also received several awards acknowledging their significant achievement.
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