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Comprehensive Treatment of Late-Onset Tibia Vara

Gordon, J. Eric, MD1; Heidenreich, Fred P., MD2; Carpenter, Chris J., RN1; Kelly-Hahn, Jill, RN1; Schoenecker, Perry L., MD1

doi: 10.2106/JBJS.02276
Scientific Articles

Background: Late-onset tibia vara (Blount disease) can be difficult to treat because of frequent morbid obesity and associated deformities, including distal femoral varus, proximal tibial procurvatum, and distal tibial valgus, that contribute to lower extremity malalignment. We present a comprehensive approach that addresses all components of the deformity and allows restoration of the anatomic and mechanical axes.

Methods: Fifteen consecutive patients (nineteen lower extremities) with late-onset tibia vara were managed with this comprehensive approach. The mean age of the patients at the time of surgery was 14.9 years, and the mean weight was 113 kg. Standing anteroposterior and lateral radiographs were made preoperatively and at the time of the final follow-up. Preoperatively, the mean mechanical axis deviation was 108 mm, the mean lateral distal femoral angle was 95°, and the mean mechanical medial proximal tibial angle was 71°. In all nineteen extremities, the proximal tibial varus deformity was corrected by means of a valgus osteotomy and application of an Ilizarov ring external fixator. Distal femoral varus was corrected by means of either hemiepiphyseal stapling or valgus osteotomy with blade-plate fixation in thirteen of the nineteen extremities. Distal tibial valgus was treated either with hemiepiphyseal stapling or with varus osteotomy and gradual correction with use of the Ilizarov external fixator in eleven of the nineteen extremities.

Results: After a mean duration of follow-up of 5.0 years, the mean mechanical axis deviation had improved to 1 mm (range, 20 to -30 mm), the lateral distal femoral angle had improved to 87° (range, 83° to 98°), and the mechanical medial proximal tibial angle had improved to 88° (range, 83° to 98°). The mean time required for correction of the proximal tibial varus deformity was thirty-one days, and the external fixator was removed at a mean of 4.5 months postoperatively. All patients had development of one or more superficial pin-track infections (mean, 1.9 pin-site infections per patient). No wound infections, nonunions, or neurovascular complications occurred. Eighteen of the nineteen extremities were pain-free at the time of the final follow-up.

Conclusions: This comprehensive approach allowed restoration of the mechanical and anatomic axes of the lower extremity in patients with late-onset tibia vara, resulting in a resolution of symptoms as a result of normalization of the weight-bearing forces across the knee and ankle. We believe that this approach will decrease the risk of early degenerative arthritis of the knee.

Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

1 St. Louis Shriners Hospital for Children, 2001 South Lindbergh Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63131. E-mail address for J.E. Gordon:

2 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, One Barnes-Jewish Hospital Plaza, Suite 11300 West Pavilion, St. Louis, MO 63110

Copyright © 2005 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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