Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 52  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 218  

Post traumatic ectopic nail

Mohan Rajashekar1, S Bhandary1, M Shenoy2, AR Sali1,  
1 Departments of General Surgery, K. S. Hegde Medical Academy, Mangalore, Karnataka - 575018, India
2 Departments of Dermatology, K. S. Hegde Medical Academy, Mangalore, Karnataka - 575018, India

Correspondence Address:
Mohan Rajashekar
Departments of General Surgery, K. S. Hegde Medical Academy, Mangalore, Karnataka - 575018

How to cite this article:
Rajashekar M, Bhandary S, Shenoy M, Sali A R. Post traumatic ectopic nail.J Postgrad Med 2006;52:218-218

How to cite this URL:
Rajashekar M, Bhandary S, Shenoy M, Sali A R. Post traumatic ectopic nail. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2006 [cited 2021 Nov 29 ];52:218-218
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Full Text

A 19 year old, male manual labourer presented with a complaint of an additional nail over his left thumb since 1 year. This nail was noticed 2 months following a cut injury to the right nail fold sustained at work. There was no associated pain, discharge or discomfort. The additional nail had horizontal growth pattern, growing parallel and above the normal underlying nail. It required regular trimming. On examination, a nail like structure was noted above and horizontal to the normal underlying nail measuring about 7 x 5 mms. It was not fused with the underlying normal nail and there was no associated bony deformity in the terminal phalanx. Other nails were normal. A clinical diagnosis of ectopic nail (syn: onychoheterotopia) was made and it was surgically excised under local anaesthesia [Figure 1]. Histopathological examination revealed a fully developed nail unit with a nail matrix and nail plate. No recurrence is noted 1 years following excision.


Ectopic nail (syn: onychoheterotopia) is a term used to describe nail tissue noted in a different location other than in the normal nail bed. It is an extremely rare condition with less than 40 reported cases in the literature. First reported by Ohya in 1931, they have been broadly classified as congenital and acquired, the majority of the reported cases being of the congenital type. The pathogenesis of both types remains unclear.[1] It has been postulated that the congenital type is a kind of polydactyly or are generated from stray germ cells. There are reports of familial occurrences and hence a genetic factor has also been suggested. They have also been noted in association with congenital anomalies like Pierre Robinson syndrome and in patients with anomalies of chromosome 6.[1],[2] Acquired ectopic nails occur following trauma to the nail unit and hence it has been postulated that the transfer and inoculation of the nail matrix causes the ectopic nail growth.[3]

Ectopic nails have been noted on the volar and dorsal aspects of the extremities and also on multiple sites on the same patient. Vertical, horizontal and circumferential growth patterns have been reported. The absence of a proper nail fold or the absence a nail bed, is cited as cause for vertical growth pattern.[4] Associated defects in the underlying bone has been reported in both types, which suggests that the contact of the ectopic nail matrix with the periosteum could impede intra-membranous ossification and deform the bone shape.[5]

The treatment of ectopic nail is surgical excision. If a wide defect results following excision, a skin flap or a V-Y advancement flap may be required to cover the defect. Recurrence following excision has been reported in a few patients.[1]


1Ena P, Mazzarello V, Dessy LA. Ectopic Plantar Nail: A report of two cases. Br J Dermatol 2003;149:1071-4.
2Kopera D, Soyer HP, Graz HK. Ectopic calcaneal nail. J Am Acad Dermatol 1996;35:484-5.
3Sasmaz S, Coban YK, Gumusalan Y, Boran C. Post traumatic ectopic nail. J Am Acad Dermatol 2004;50:323-4.
4Kato N. Vertically growing ectopic nail. J Cutan Pathol 1992;19:445-7.
5Kamibayashi Y, Abe S, Fujita T, Imai A, Komatsu K, Yamamoto Y. Congenital ectopic nail with bone deformity. Br J Plast Surg 1998;51:321-3.

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