Midterm Results of the Ponseti Method for Treatment of Clubfoot in Patients with Spina Bifida

Cameron Arkin, Stephanie Ihnow, Luciano Dias, Vineeta T. Swaroop*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Clubfoot occurs in 30% to 50% of patients with spina bifida. The Ponseti casting method has changed treatment of idiopathic clubfoot to a primarily nonoperative regimen. The Ponseti method is now widely applied to clubfoot in spina bifida, however, few studies report treatment outcomes. Most available studies include heterogeneous diagnoses or short-term results. The purpose of this study is to report midterm outcomes in patients with spina bifida and clubfoot treated with the Ponseti method. Methods: IRB-approved retrospective chart review of 17 consecutive patients (26 feet) below 1 year of age with spina bifida and clubfoot treated with Ponseti method. Charts reviewed for age at treatment initiation, number of casts, surgeries performed, recurrence of deformity, and further treatments. Primary outcome was recurrence of deformity requiring further treatment. Data were analyzed using t tests for means and χ 2 tests for categorical data. Results: Initial correction was achieved in 26 of 26 feet patients. A total of 23 of 26 feet patients underwent a surgical procedure for the tendo-Achilles at an average age of 105 days, 12 percutaneous tenotomies (percT) and 11 open tendonectomy (openT). At average follow-up of 5 (1.8 to 7.5) years, 11 feet (42.3%) in 8 patients were successfully treated with Ponseti method. Of the 15 feet (57.7%) with recurrence, 10 required posterior releases, 4 posterior-medial-lateral releases and 1 tendon transfers. Average age at further treatment was 1.5 years (0.9 to 3.1 y). Those with recurrence required more casts before tendon surgery (7.6 vs. 6.1, P=0.02). A total of 100% patients (12/12) with percT had recurrence of deformity, compared with 18% (2/11) of patients with openT (P<0.0005). Conclusions: Midterm evaluation of Ponseti method for clubfoot in spina bifida shows a successful outcome in 42.3%. Recurrence with openT was significantly lower than percT and also substantially lower than previously published recurrence rates in spina bifida (33.3% to 68%). In spina bifida, Ponseti method leads to reliable initial correction and is useful to decrease extensive soft tissue release. An open excision of the Achilles should be performed. Families should be counseled about high risk of recurrence and potential need for further treatment. Level of Evidence: Level III - retrospective comparative study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e588-e592
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Ponseti method
  • clubfoot
  • spina bifida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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