New Treatment for an Old Disease: Dupuytren’s Contracture

Dennis noticed his left hand was getting harder to use. When it got so bad that he couldn’t wear a wedding ring or do certain things at the gym, he finally went to a doctor and was diagnosed with Dupuytren’s contracture. This genetic disease develops when the fibrous tissue layer underneath the palm and fingers begins to thicken. Small bumps form under the skin and may lead to fingers contracting and curling in.

Dennis lives in Oxnard, California, and interviewed several orthopedic surgeons there for treatment. One of the doctors recommended Dr. Verheyden after seeing him give a lecture about a non-surgical treatment for Dupuytren’s that had great results. It involves an injectable enzyme called Xiaflex, which is the first and only FDA approved treatment for patients with this disease. Historically, treatment consisted of either surgery of the hand or needle aponeurotomy, followed by hand therapy. However, the FDA has only approved the injection of a partial bottle of the enzyme into one cord. Dr. Verheyden’s method uses the same injection, but he uses the entire bottle of enzyme and is able to inject it into multiple cords, resulting in greater efficacy and lower healthcare costs.

Dennis and his wife Judy flew up to Bend to have the treatment done. He said, “My fingers were straighter than they had been in years! I was very pleased with the results. I took up cooking as a hobby, and enjoyed the full use of both hands for the first time in many years.”

Dennis’s hand immediately after the injection.

Dupuytren’s is a disease, and with any treatment, even hand surgery, it has a 50% chance of coming back. When Dennis noticed he couldn’t do certain things again, he looked for a surgeon in California near his home to do the same treatment. He consulted with several orthopedic hand surgeons and found that they were only able to do the single cord injection or surgery. He went ahead and had an injection done, but was disappointed with the results. Even after many physical therapy visits, his fingers were still bent. Two years later, he decided it was time to see Dr. Verheyden again. “My wife and I feel very fortunate that we were referred to see him. In addition to straightening my fingers, he has a nice bedside manner. He made me feel comfortable, answered all my questions and concerns, and best of all, I will have full use of my hand for a long time. I hope I don’t have to come back again, but if I do, I will not hesitate to call him.”

Dr. Verheyden, an orthopedic hand specialist, has done extensive research to improve outcomes and advance medical knowledge for patients with Dupuytren’s. He has presented his findings regionally and nationally in New York, California, Boston, Chicago, and Las Vegas. His research has been published in the Journal of Hand Surgery. His patients have traveled from as far as Hawaii, Alaska, and Florida to seek nonsurgical Xiaflex collagenase injection solutions for this condition.