UP Health System – Marquette Hand Surgeon Dr. Clayton Peimer receives international recognition for work on the “Viking disease,” Dupuytren’s contracture

January 18, 2017

A local surgeon has received international recognition for his research on the treatment of a disease that has a big impact in the Upper Peninsula.

Dr. Clayton Peimer is a celebrated hand surgeon and has been at the forefront of leading research on Dupuytren’s disease for decades.

Dupuytren’s, also known as the “Viking disease,” was named for the surgeon who first described an operation to correct the affliction and served as Napoleon Bonaparte’s personal physician: Barron Guillaume Dupuytren.

The nickname “Viking disease” came about because the disease is more prevalent in males of northern European descent. Upper Peninsula residents can be particularly at risk for Dupuytren’s contracture because of a high concentration of Finnish and general Scandinavian heritage in the area.

In the United Kingdom, approximately 20% of people over the age of 65 have some form of the disease. Yet, Dupuytren’s appears all over the world. The disease may also have an effect on the feet and sometimes men’s genitals

Dupuytren’s is a flexion contracture of the fingers and hand. In simpler terms, the fingers become bent toward the palm, and cannot be straightened (most often the ring and pinky, but any fingers can be affected).

Dr. Peimer, hand surgeon at UP Health System – Marquette, has published new research that looks at Dupuytren’s disease and Xiaflex® (collagenase enzyme) use that can correct deformities of finger joints without surgery.

Dr. Peimer’s research is particularly significant in its focus on non-surgical treatments for the potentially debilitating disease in patients over age 50. While surgical intervention may be  necessary for more advanced stages of the disease, Dr. Peimer’s work has helped correct the hands of hundreds of Upper Peninsula residents with just an injection.

Dr. Peimer said, “When I first started looking at Dupuytren’s contracture, there was only the surgical approach.  Now, most patients can be effectively treated right in the office. We use an injection. It helps bottom line costs for the patient and is usually safer than surgical intervention. What is truly fantastic is that we have made such great strides in these non-surgical treatments, and can better help the people of the Upper Peninsula who suffer from Dupuytren’s.”

Dr. Peimer’s work focuses on a non-surgical, in-office injection, which is FDA-approved. Dr. Peimer was instrumental in leading our hospital to become one of the 15 research sites in the United States for the program which led to the FDA’s approval of the treatment.

Dr. Clayton Peimer’s latest publication, a chapter contribution called “Controversy: How to Treat Severe PIP Contractures? – Collagenase Treatment” appears in the work Dupuytren Disease and Related Diseases – The Cutting Edge (Springer International Publishing, 2017).

The book was developed from the 2015 International Conference on Dupuytren Disease, held in Groningen, Netherlands. Dr. Peimer was an invited guest speaker and gave two presentations, one of which became his contribution to the book.

Dr. Peimer participated in a National Institute of Health panel in the 1990s on Dupuytren’s at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and has been instrumental in the exploration of non-surgical treatment of this disease.

Dr. Peimer received his medical degree at SUNY Health Science Center Medical College in Syracuse, NY, then underwent two years of general surgery training at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in NYC. He completed his Orthopaedic surgery residency at SUNY Health Science Center Medical College in Syracuse, NY and completed a fellowship in hand surgery at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, MA.

To contact Dr. Peimer’s office at UP Health System- Marquette, call 906.225.3333.