Popular initial treatment for congenital clubfoot includes the use of serial manipulations and casting as described by Ponseti et al. Plaster of Paris and semirigid fiberglass are 2 materials commonly used for casting. To our knowledge, no study to date has compared the clinical results of these 2 materials. The objective of this randomized prospective study was to compare the effectiveness of these materials in the initial management of clubfoot.
All clubfeet presenting to the 2 senior authors' outpatient clinics over a 15-month period were offered enrollment. Patients were randomly assigned for treatment with either plaster or semirigid fiberglass casts. The severity of the clubfoot deformity was documented using the scoring system devised by Diméglio et al. Serial casts were applied according to the technique described by Ponseti et al. At the completion of nonsurgical treatment, the final clubfoot severity was documented.
A total of 42 clubfeet in 34 patients were enrolled in the study. After exclusion of 3 patients, 13 patients (16 feet) received fiberglass, and 18 patients (23 feet) received plaster casts. The mean baseline severity scores of the 2 groups were not significantly different. The mean final severity score was significantly higher in the feet treated with fiberglass than those treated with plaster (6.4 vs 4.1; P = 0.037). There was a trend toward higher scores for cast tolerance, durability, and parent satisfaction in the fiberglass group, but this did not reach significance.
This study supports the use of plaster casting with the Ponseti technique. The use of plaster casts resulted in a statistically lower Diméglio-Bensahel score at the completion of serial casting. There was a trend toward higher patient satisfaction in the fiberglass-treated group. Whether this difference has an effect on long-term outcomes and recurrence remains to be studied.
Level of Evidence:
Level II. Nonblinded randomized controlled prospective study.