Quengel Casting for the Management of Pediatric Knee Flexion Contractures: A 26-Year Single Institution Experience

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Abstract

Background:

Quengel casting was introduced in 1922 for nonsurgical treatment of knee flexion contractures (KFC) associated with hemophilic arthropathy. It consists of an extension-desubluxation hinge fixed to a cast allowing for gradual correction of a flexion deformity while preventing posterior tibial subluxation. The purpose of this study is to report 1 center’s experience with this technique for the treatment of pediatric KFC.

Methods:

A retrospective review was conducted over a 26-year period. All patients with KFC treated with Quengel casting were included. Demographic data, associated medical conditions, adjunctive soft tissue releases, complications, and the need for late surgical intervention were recorded. Tibiofemoral angle measurements in maximal extension were recorded at initiation and termination of casting, 1-year follow-up, and final follow-up. Success was defined as no symptomatic recurrence of KFC or need for subsequent surgery.

Results:

Eighteen patients (26 knees) were treated for KFC with Quengel casting. Average age at initiation of casting was 8.1 years with average follow-up of 59.9 months. Fifteen knees (58%) underwent soft tissue releases before casting. An average of 1.5 casts per knee were applied over an average of 23.9 days. Average KFC before casting was 50.6 degrees (range, 15 to 100 degrees) which improved to 5.96 degrees (0 to 40 degrees) at cast removal (P<0.00001). Sixteen patients (22 knees) had 1-year follow-up or failed casting before 1 year. Of these, 11 knees (50%) had a successful outcome. Residual KFC of those treated successfully was 6.8 degrees (range, 0 to 30 degrees) at 1 year and 8.2 degrees (range, 0 to 30 degrees) at final follow-up, averaging 71.4 months (P=0.81). Of the 11 knees deemed failures, all had recurrence of deformity within an average of 1 year from cast removal. Surgical release before Quengel casting did not improve the chances for success (P=0.09).

Conclusions:

Quengel casting can improve pediatric KFC an average of 44.2 degrees with minimal complications. Although 50% of treated patients will demonstrate significant recurrence or need later surgery, the majority of those treated successfully have durable results at intermediate term follow-up.

Level of Evidence:

Level IV—therapeutic study.

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