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Long-term Results of Treatment of Congenital Idiopathic Clubfoot in 187 Feet: Outcome of the Functional “French” Method, if Necessary Completed by Soft-tissue Release

Rampal, Virginie MD*; Chamond, Caroline MD; Barthes, Xavier MD†,‡; Glorion, Christophe MD, PhD; Seringe, Raphael MD†,§; Wicart, Philippe MD, PhD†,‡

doi: 10.1097/BPO.0b013e318270304e

Background: Two main options for treatment of congenital idiopathic clubfoot are the “French” functional method and the Ponseti method. The goal of this article was to evaluate the results of the functional treatment method, which, if necessary, is completed by a surgical release.

Patients and Methods: A series of 187 feet (129 patients) underwent functional conservative treatment. At first evaluation, the feet were classified according to the classification of Dimeglio. All patients then underwent daily physiotherapy and splintage, which was progressively stopped during childhood. Among these 187 feet, 85 feet (45.5%) required soft-tissue release to correct the remaining deformity. Surgery, when required, consisted of a complete posterolateral and medial release procedure, combined with a lengthening of the tibialis anterior tendon in most cases and a bony lateral procedure in case of forefoot adduction.

Results: At the latest follow-up (14.7 y; range, 7.4 to 23 y), results were “good” or “very good” in almost 98% of feet, according to the Ghanem and Seringe score. Severe feet at first consultation showed a worse result and required surgery more often than did the less severe ones. Among nonoperated feet, very good results were found in 99% of feet, and none had a fair or bad result. The average age at surgery was 2.5 years. Feet operated upon had lower results compared with the others. At last follow-up, among the operated feet, the results were excellent or good in 95% of the feet. The results were fair or bad in 4 cases; all 4 feet had been operated upon more than once. The results were not statistically dependent on age at the time of surgery, but feet operated upon before the age of 2 years had statistically more flattening of the talar dome and subtalar stiffness.

Conclusions: The functional treatment of clubfoot leads to a very good result without the need for surgery in more than half of the patients. The initial severity of the feet is the main factor that influences the final result. The rate of feet not requiring surgery should be increased by recent modifications to the method, including percutaneous Achilles tenotomy.

Level of Evidence: Level IV—retrospective series.

*Paediatric Orthopaedic Unit, Nice Paediatric Hospital, GCS CHU-Lenval, Nice

Paediatric Orthopaedic Unit, Paediatric Surgery Department, Hôpital Saint Vincent de Paul et Necker-Enfants Malades

Paediatric Orthopaedic Unit, Paediatric Surgery Department, Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades

§Orthopaedic Surgery Unit, Hôpital Cochin, Paris, France

Study conducted at Paris Descartes University, Paris, France.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Virginie Rampal, MD, Paediatric Orthopaedic Unit, Nice Paediatric Hospital, GCS CHU-Lenval, 59 avenue de la Californie, Nice 06000, France. E-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.