Correction of Moderate and Severe Acquired Flexible Flatfoot with Medializing Calcaneal Osteotomy and Flexor Digitorum Longus Transfer

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Background: Acquired flexible flatfoot encompasses a wide spectrum of disease, and there is no validated treatment protocol. We hypothesized that a medializing calcaneal osteotomy with a flexor digitorum longus transfer is adequate to correct a less severe acquired flexible flatfoot but not a more severe flatfoot. We also hypothesized that use of an additional procedure would further correct the flatfoot.

Methods: The study included seven pairs of cadaver specimens, with one side randomly selected for the creation of a mild flatfoot deformity and the other, for the creation of a severe flatfoot deformity. Cyclic axial load was applied to the intact foot, to the flatfoot, after correction with a medializing calcaneal osteotomy and a flexor digitorum longus transfer, and after the addition of a subtalar arthroereisis. Radiographic and pedobarographic data were obtained at each stage. A repeated-measures analysis of variance with post hoc analysis was used to compare all parameters in the intact foot with those in the flatfoot and corrected specimens. A Student t test was used to compare flatfoot severity between the mild and severe models.

Results: Compared with the intact foot, the mild and severe flatfoot models showed a significant change in the talar-first metatarsal angle (p = 0.01 and 0.03, respectively), talonavicular angle (p = 0.04 and 0.04), and medial cuneiform height (p = 0.03 and 0.05). The mild and severe models were significantly different from each other with regard to the talar-first metatarsal angle (p = 0.003) and talonavicular angle (p = 0.002). After the osteotomy and tendon transfer in the mild-flatfoot model, the talar-first metatarsal angle and talonavicular angle were not significantly different from those in the intact state. In the severe-flatfoot model, the talar-first metatarsal angle, talonavicular angle, and medial cuneiform height remained significantly undercorrected after the osteotomy and tendon transfer. After the arthroereisis, the talonavicular angle and medial cuneiform height were not significantly different from the values for the intact foot.

Conclusions: In a cadaver model, the effectiveness of different procedures on radiographic and pedobarographic parameters varies with the severity of an acquired flatfoot deformity.

Clinical Relevance: This study suggests that less severe acquired flexible flatfoot might be appropriately treated with a combined medializing calcaneal osteotomy and flexor digitorum longus transfer and that severe flatfoot might require an additional procedure for adequate correction.

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