Clubfoot is a common congenital foot deformity in children. The Ponseti method of serial casting has become the standard of care in clubfoot treatment. Clubfoot casting is performed in many centers by both orthopaedic surgeons and physical therapists (PTs); however, direct comparison of outcomes and complications of this treatment between these providers is limited. This study prospectively compared the outcomes of patients with clubfoot treated by these 2 groups of specialists.
Between January 2010 and December 2014, all patients under the age of 12 months with a diagnosis of clubfoot were included. Patients were randomized to an orthopaedic surgeon (MD) group or a PT group for weekly serial casting. Main outcome measures included the number of casts required to achieve correction, clinical recurrence of the deformity, and the need for additional surgical intervention.
One hundred twenty-six infants were included in the study. Patient demographics and characteristics (sex, race, family history of clubfoot, laterality, and severity of deformity) were similar between treatment groups, with the only significant difference being the mean age of entry into the study (5.2 weeks in the MD group and 9.2 weeks in the PT group, P=0.01). Mean length of follow-up was 2.6 years. The number of casts required trended to a lower number in the MD group. There was no significant difference in the rates of clinical recurrence or additional surgical intervention between groups.
Ponseti casting for treatment of clubfoot performed by orthopaedic surgeons and PTs results in equivalent outcomes without any difference in complications. Although the number of casts required trended to a lower number in the MD group, this likely did not result in any clinical significance, as the difference in cast number equaled <1 week’s difference in the overall duration of serial casting.
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