Background: Flatfoot deformities are common in children and are treated using many conservative and surgical approaches. Subtalar extra-articular arthroereisis, in particular, limits talar motion, spares the subtalar joint, and prevents excessive subtalar joint pronation. Addressing the underlying equinus deformity with gastrocnemius recession is an important factor in optimizing outcomes in patients with flatfoot deformity.
Methods: This study included 20 children, 4 to 17 years old. The patients presented 34 cases of functional flexible flatfoot, and each was treated with gastrocnemius recession and a subtalar implant insertion of either a resorbable arthroereisis plug constructed of poly-L lactic acid or a threaded titanium alloy plug. Clinical evaluation was based on the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) Ankle-Hindfoot Scale as well as subjective assessments of pain, function, shoe wear, and overall preoperative and postoperative satisfaction.
Results: The average AOFAS Ankle-Hindfoot Scale reading improved by 21.3 points (standard deviation = 8.1; 95% confidence interval = 17.5-25.1), from an average preoperative reading of 67.7 points to an average postoperative reading of 89 points (P < .0001). Subjectively, patients experienced reduced pain and improved function, cosmesis, and shoe wear.
Conclusions: Treating equinus deformity with gastrocnemius recession significantly improved patient outcomes when treating flatfoot deformity. Reconstructive flatfoot surgery that combined subtalar arthroereisis with a resorbable arthroereisis plug and gastrocnemius recession resulted in favorable clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. Symptom improvement and preservation of the subtalar joint were seen with these procedures, which are reasonable and useful options in treating children with symptomatic flexible flatfoot.
Levels of evidence: Therapeutic, Level IV, Retrospective case series.