Objective: Equinovarus foot deformity following stroke or traumatic brain injury compromises walking capacity, interfering with activities of daily living. In soft-tissue surgery the imbalanced muscles responsible for the deviant position of the ankle and foot are lengthened, released and/or transferred. However, knowledge about the effectiveness of surgical correction is limited. The aim of the present study was to carry out a systematic review of the literature to assess the effects of surgical correction of equinovarus foot deformity in patients with stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Methods: A systematic search of full-length articles in the English, German or Dutch languages published from 1965 to March 2011 was performed in PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane and CIRRIE. The identified studies were analysed following the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health criteria.
Results: A total of 15 case series, case control and historically controlled studies (CEBM level 4) were identified, suggesting that surgical correction of equinovarus foot deformity is a safe procedure that is effective in terms of re-obtaining a balanced foot position, improving walking capacity and diminishing the need for orthotic use.
Discussion: Further validation of surgical correction of equinovarus foot deformity following stroke or traumatic brain injury is required, using higher level study designs with validated assessment tools. Comparing surgical techniques with other interventions is necessary to generate evidence upon which treatment algorithms could be based.