What Is Dupuytren's Disease?
Dupuytren's disease was first described in 1831 by famous French surgeon Baron Guillaume Dupuytren. Dupuytren's disease is a fibrotic tissue disorder or wound healing disorder that affects the hands. It is a non-cancerous thickening of the fascia that is characterized by the presence of excess collagen or fibrotic tissue that forms firm lumps in the palm or fingers. Indentations in the palm called dermal pits are also common. The lumps or dermal pits can be present for long periods of time before a cord may develop causing the fingers to contract. It is common to have the condition in both hands.
Dupuytren's disease is most common in Caucasian populations having a global prevalence of 3-6% with the highest prevalence being in Scandinavia*. Countries that have seen a high level of immigration from Northern Europeans see a notably higher rate of occurance. In Austraila for example, it is estimated that 30% of people over the age of 60 are affected**. There is a strong genetic component to Dupuytren's disease. One study examined 832 relatives of 50 people with Dupuytren's disease and found that 68% of the relatives were affected by the condition***. The prevalence of Dupuytren's disease is significantly higher and develops earlier in men than women. The peak incidence is around 60-70 years in women and 50 years in men*. The age at which the condition begins often indicates the ultimate severity of the condition. Onset of the condition before the age of 30 is likely to lead to early and sever contracture of the fingers and a higher rate of recurrence after surgery*. In addition to being associated with Peyronie's disease and Plantar fibromatosis, Dupuytren's contracture is also associated with knuckle pads.
**Hueston JT (1960) The incidence of Dupuytren's contracture. Med J Aust 2: 999-1002. Hueston JT (1962) Further studies on the incidence of Dupuytren's contracture. Med J Aust 1: 586-88.
*** Ling RSM (1963) The genetic factor in Dupuytren's disease. J Bone Joint Surg 45B: 709-18.