Early Results of the Ponseti Method for the Treatment of Clubfoot in Distal Arthrogryposis

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Clubfoot occurs in approximately one in 1000 live births and is one of the most common congenital birth defects. Although there have been several reports of successful treatment of idiopathic clubfoot with the Ponseti method, the use of this method for the treatment of other forms of clubfoot has not been reported. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the early results of the Ponseti method when used for the treatment of clubfoot associated with distal arthrogryposis.


Twelve consecutive infants (twenty-four feet) with clubfoot deformity associated with distal arthrogryposis were managed with the Ponseti method and were retrospectively reviewed at a minimum of two years. The severity of the foot deformity was classified according to the grading system of Diméglio et al. The number of casts required to achieve correction was compared with published data for the treatment of idiopathic clubfoot. Recurrent clubfoot deformities or complications during treatment were recorded.


Twenty-two clubfeet in eleven patients were classified as Diméglio grade IV, and two clubfeet in one patient were classified as Diméglio grade II. Initial correction was achieved in all clubfeet with a mean of 6.9 ± 2.1 casts (95% confidence interval, 5.6 to 8.3 casts), which was significantly greater than the mean of 4.5 ± 1.2 casts (95% confidence interval, 4.3 to 4.7 casts) needed in a cohort of 219 idiopathic clubfeet that were treated during the same time period by the senior author with use of the Ponseti method (p = 0.002). Six feet in three patients had a relapse after initial successful treatment. All relapses were related to noncompliance with prescribed brace wear. Four relapsed clubfeet in two patients were successfully treated with repeat casting and/or tenotomy; the remaining two relapsed clubfeet in one patient were treated with extensive soft-tissue-release operations.


Our early-term results support the use of the Ponseti method for the initial treatment of distal arthrogrypotic clubfoot deformity. Longer follow-up will be necessary to assess the risk of recurrence and the potential need for corrective clubfoot surgery in this patient population, which historically has been difficult to treat nonoperatively.

Level of Evidence:

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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