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Gait Improvement Surgery in Diplegic Children: How Long Do the Improvements Last?

Saraph, Vinay MD; Zwick, Ernst-Bernhard MD; Auner, Claudia MD; Schneider, Frank MD; Steinwender, Gerhardt MD; Linhart, Wolfgang MD

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: May-June 2005 - Volume 25 - Issue 3 - p 263-267
doi: 10.1097/01.bpo.0000151053.16615.86
Neuromuscular: Original Article

Gait improvement surgery in ambulatory children with cerebral palsy performed as single-event multilevel surgery is today a well-established modality of treatment, but follow-up studies are lacking. Preoperative and follow-up gait analysis data of 32 diplegic children who underwent single-event multilevel surgery for gait improvement between 1995 and 1998 were evaluated retrospectively. Relevant sagittal plane kinematic parameters of the hip, knee, and ankle joint and time-distance parameters were considered for outcome measures in this study. Postoperative gait analysis was performed three times in all the cases: after discontinuation of the dynamic AFOs (mean 1.0 ± 0.3 years), after discontinuation of the night splints (mean 2.3 ± 0.7 years), and at least 1.5 years after discontinuation of physiotherapy and splints (mean 4.4 ± 1.1 years). The aim of the study was to ascertain whether the improvements in gait function were maintained over these examinations. The authors found that gait function continued to change over 1, 2, and 3 years of follow-up. A general decrease in gait function was measurable in this collective between the first postoperative and the second postoperative evaluations. The results indicate that evaluation of gait improvement surgery in cerebral palsy performed at a minimum of 3 years after surgery would give the most predictive outcome of treatment.

From the Pediatric Orthopedic Unit, Department of Pediatric Surgery, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria.

Study conducted at the Medical University of Graz, Austria.

None of the authors received financial support for this study.

Reprints: Dr. Vinay Saraph, Pediatric Orthopedic Unit, Dept. of Pediatric Surgery, Medical University of Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 34 A-8036 Graz, Austria (e-mail:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.