Crouch gait in cerebral palsy is associated with spasticity and contracture of the hamstrings and weakness of the extensors of the hip and knee and ankle plantar flexors. Different treatment options have been described in the literature to deal with this difficult problem. We devised a different protocol of treatment aimed at correction of the flexion deformity of the knee, weakening of the hamstrings, and augmenting the power of the knee and hip extension, which we used on 17 children with severe crouch.
This surgery, performed in 2 stages, entailed shortening of the femur, plication of the patellar tendon, transfer of the semitendinous to the back of the femur, and fractional lengthening of the other hamstrings. The degree of fixed deformity, the popliteal angle, quadriceps power, range of knee motion, ambulatory status and the efficiency of gait, and the position of the patella were evaluated before surgery and again after a minimum 2-year follow-up.
The gait improved and the power of the quadriceps and the range of knee motion increased. The flexion deformity and popliteal angle decreased significantly. Patella alta was corrected and all fragmentation of the tibial tuberosity and fractures of the patella healed. The Functional Mobility Scores and the ambulatory capacity increased in all the children. There was no evidence of damage to the sciatic nerve in any patient.
The method of treatment of severe crouch gait outlined in this study seems to be an effective and safe method of dealing with this difficult problem.
Level of evidence: IV.