Gastrocnemius Recession Leads to Increased Ankle Motion and Improved Patient Satisfaction After 2 Years of Follow-Up

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Abstract

The isolated gastrocnemius contracture present in neurologic healthy patients results in a significant limitation of ankle dorsiflexion causing pathologic gait patterns and a greater risk of further foot disorders. Gastrocnemius recession is an established procedure to increase ankle dorsiflexion. However, little evidence is available of the use of gastrocnemius recession in these patients. Complication rates, recurrence of gastrocnemius contracture, and the prevalence of additional foot disorders needs further evaluation. A study group of 64 operated limbs undergoing gastrocnemius recession was evaluated to determine the prevalence of foot disorders, pre- and postoperative ankle dorsiflexion, and incidence of complications. A subgroup of 15 (23.4%) patients without additional operative procedures was examined regarding ankle dorsiflexion, strength (Janda method), sensitivity in the operated limb, and the pre- and postoperative Foot Function Index scores. The prevalence of foot disorders showed pes planus (41%), hallux valgus (38%), metatarsalgia (19%), hammertoe deformity (13%), and symptomatic Haglund exostosis (11%). At 31 months of follow-up, the patients had significantly benefited from increased ankle dorsiflexion of 13.3° ± 7.9° (p < .001). Postoperatively, 16% patients experienced complications. In the subgroup of 15 patients, the follow-up examination after 44 months showed ankle dorsiflexion of 14° ± 7.1°. The plantarflexion strength was 4 of 5 (Janda method). The Foot Function Index score had improved significantly from 65.4 ± 26.5 points to 33.4 ± 19.5 points (p < .001). Patients with isolated gastrocnemius contracture seem to have a high prevalence of symptomatic foot disorders. At a mid-term follow-up examination, gastrocnemius recession (Strayer) was shown to be an effective procedure to significantly improve ankle dorsiflexion, functionality, and pain symptoms. More attention should be given to the development of postoperative complications.

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