Hand-arm vibration syndrome with concomitant arterial thrombosis in the hands.

Thompson A, House R.
Occup Med (Lond). 2006 Aug;56(5):317-21. Epub 2006 May 22.

BACKGROUND: Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) refers to the vascular, neurological and musculoskeletal effects that may occur in workers with prolonged exposure to vibrating tools. Hypothenar hammer syndrome (HHS) is a lesion of the ulnar artery at the level of the hamate bone secondary to single or repeated episodes of trauma to the hypothenar eminence. The literature suggests that digital arterial thrombosis and HHS may be associated with the use of vibrating tools.

AIM: This study will familiarize investigators with the range of vascular abnormalities seen in workers using vibrating tools, and highlight the importance of screening for arterial thrombosis in the hand when assessing hand-arm vibration-exposed patients.

METHODS: In the patients referred to our clinic for HAVS assessment, three were identified during the period 2001 to 2004 who had vascular occlusions in the hands in addition to HAVS. In addition to standardized HAVS vascular investigations, all three patients had arteriograms based on a significantly positive Allen’s test.

RESULTS: All three cases had documented HAVS based on vascular testing. Arteriograms revealed a spectrum of severity of arterial thromboses from severe HHS, to occlusion limited to the digital arteries.

CONCLUSION: Our study reports three cases of HAVS with concomitant HHS and/or digital artery thrombosis. These findings support previous reports of an association between HAVS and vascular thrombosis in the hands. Screening for arterial occlusive problems in the hands should be included in the HAVS work up.

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