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Central Polydactyly of the Foot: Surgical Management With Plantar and Dorsal Advancement Flaps

Osborn, Emily J. MD; Davids, Jon R. MD; Leffler, Lauren C. MD; Gibson, Thomas W. DO; Pugh, Linda I. RN

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: April/May 2014 - Volume 34 - Issue 3 - p 346–351
doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000000094
Lower Extremity

Background: Central polydactyly is the least common form of foot polydactyly, and the intercalary location of the duplicated ray makes the surgical exposure, excision, and closure more complex. For these reasons there is little consensus concerning the optimal technique for surgical management.

Methods: A retrospective case series of 22 patients with 27 feet with central polydactyly, treated surgically by the dorsal and plantar advancement flap technique, was performed. Change in width of the forefoot was measured from radiographs by the metatarsal gap ratio. Functional outcomes were assessed by the Foot and Ankle Ability Measure.

Results: Signficant narrowing of the forefoot, as measured radiographically by the metatarsal gap ratio, was achieved after surgery (P<0.0001). This radiographic narrowing was maintained with growth after a mean follow-up of 8 years (P=0.0001). In 7 of the unilateral cases, the mean forefoot radiographic width of the affected side, after surgical resection and reconstruction of the central polydactyly, was 2% greater than the contralateral, uninvolved side. Persistent clinical widening of the forefoot after surgery was reported in the majority (82%) of cases. The Foot and Ankle Ability Measure results showed near-normal functional outcomes in itemized activities of daily living, itemized sports, and overall function categories. The few reports of less than normal foot function were related to shoe wear issues and incisional scarring that was painful or cosmetically unappealing.

Conclusions: The radiographic and functional outcomes after surgical management of central polydactyly with the dorsal and plantar advancement flap technique are excellent. The technique successfully narrows the forefoot on radiographs, and this narrowing is maintained with growth over time. However, families should be advised that persistent perceived widening of the forefoot relative to normal is common, despite successful radiographic narrowing after surgery.

Level of Evidence: IV.

Shriners Hospitals for Children, Greenville, SC and Sacramento, CA

Investigation performed at Shriners Hospital for Children-Greenville, and Shriners Hospital for Children-Northern California.

None of the authors received financial support for this study.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Jon R. Davids, MD, Shriners Hospitals for Children-NCA, 2425 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95817. E-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins