Transfer of the tendon of tibialis anterior in relapsed congenital clubfoot: long-term results in 38 feet

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2010 Feb;92(2):277-83. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.92B2.22504.


A total of 38 relapsed congenital clubfeet (16 stiff, 22 partially correctable) underwent revision of soft-tissue surgery, with or without a bony procedure, and transfer of the tendon of tibialis anterior at a mean age of 4.8 years (2.0 to 10.1). The tendon was transferred to the third cuneiform in five cases, to the base of the third metatarsal in ten and to the base of the fourth in 23. The patients were reviewed at a mean follow-up of 24.8 years (10.8 to 35.6). A total of 11 feet were regarded as failures (one a tendon failure, five with a subtalar fusion due to over-correction, and five with a triple arthrodesis due to under-correction or relapse). In the remaining feet the clinical outcome was excellent or good in 20 and fair or poor in seven. The mean Laaveg-Ponseti score was 81.6 of 100 points (52 to 92). Stiffness was mild in four feet and moderate or severe in 23. Comparison between the post-operative and follow-up radiographs showed statistically significant variations of the talo-first metatarsal angle towards abduction. Variations of the talocalcaneal angles and of the overlap ratio were not significant. Extensive surgery for relapsed clubfoot has a high rate of poor long-term results. The addition of transfer of the tendon of tibialis anterior can restore balance and may provide some improvement of forefoot adduction. However, it has a considerable complication rate, including failure of transfer, over-correction, and weakening of dorsiflexion. The procedure should be reserved for those limited cases in which muscle imbalance is a causative or contributing factor.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clubfoot / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tendon Transfer / adverse effects
  • Tendon Transfer / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome