Effectiveness of the Ponseti method for treating clubfoot associated with myelomeningocele: 3–9 years follow-up

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Clubfoot in myelomeningocele patients is characterized by its stiffness, severe rigidity and has traditionally been treated with extensive soft-tissue release surgery with poor outcomes. We present our experience using the Ponseti method to treat clubfoot associated with myelomeningocele. This was a retrospective, consecutive review over a 10-year period in our tertiary centre. On initial presentation, patients were assessed using the Pirani scoring system and the standard Ponseti method was initiated. Our outcome measures were successful functional correction of deformity defined as achieving a plantigrade pain-free foot. Secondary outcome measures included relapse and the need for surgical procedures. A total of 11 children with 18 myelomeningocele-associated clubfeet were included, with an average follow-up duration of 4.5 years (range 3–9 years). The average age at presentation was 4.7 weeks, with an average Pirani score of 5.5. Initial correction was achieved in all children with an average of 7 (range 4–9) Ponseti casts and tendo-achilles tenotomy was performed in 17 of 18 feet (94.4%). Nine children with 15 of 18 (83.3%) myelomeningocele-associated clubfeet achieved a satisfactory outcome at the final follow-up, with functional, pain-free feet. Recurrence occurred in five of 15 (33.3%) feet, which was managed successfully with a second tendo-achilles tenotomy and further Ponseti casting. Two children three of 18 (16.7%) failed Ponseti treatment. Ponseti method is an effective first-line treatment for myelomeningocele-associated clubfoot to achieve functional painless feet; children will often require more casts and have a higher risk of relapse.

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