‘Clubfoot’, A Congenital Deformity – Its Treatment

Congenital Talipes Equinovarus or clubfoot mostly affect children who are born with one or both feet curved inward, assuming the shape of a golf club, hence the popular term for the condition.

It is regarded as one of the common congenital deformities worldwide affecting about one infant in every one thousand births.

If left untreated, clubfoot can lead to a life of disability and social isolation. the traditional mode of treatment was extensive corrective surgery to correct the form of the foot or feet.

Currently a non surgical method is now available called the “Ponseti Technique”. The procedure was invented by Dr. Ignacio V. Ponseti and it was developed fifty years ago by Dr. Ponseti himself.

It involves a different method of manipulation of the clubfoot through a serial plaster cast application, to achieve a normal looking, supple and fully functional foot.

It has a success rate of ninety eight percent in treating clubfoot not only in infants but in older children as well, which is a breakthrough for the medical world.

The ideal period to correct a clubfoot deformity was initially perceived as younger than one year old but the technique can also help children as old as ten years old.

The technique involves applying a cast on the clubfoot weekly after gentle manipulation to gradually bring the foot to a normal position. The period of cast application ranges from two months or more, depending on the severity of the condition.

After that, a special foot brace is worn during the day, and a different one at night, to insure that the clubfoot will not recur in the patient.

It is estimated that eighty percent of clubfoot cases occur in developing countries in which a high percentage of clubfoot are treated late, remain untreated or are poorly treated.

This can cause debilitating physical and psychological burden on patients as well as severe financial burden on the family and society.

With the emergence of Ponseti technique, conventional surgery is slowly taking the backseat for treatment of clubfoot, being regarded as a very complex procedure that has poor success rates and causing significant scarring around the foot and stiffness.

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