Adult flatfoot

Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2015 Feb;101(1 Suppl):S11-7. doi: 10.1016/j.otsr.2014.07.030. Epub 2015 Jan 13.


Adult flatfoot is defined as a flattening of the medial arch of the foot in weight-bearing and lack of a propulsive gait. The 3 lesion levels are the talonavicular, tibiotarsal and midfoot joints. The subtalar joint is damaged by the consequent rotational defects. Clinical examination determines deformity and reducibility, and assesses any posterior tibialis muscle deficit, the posterior tibialis tendon and spring ligament being frequently subject to degenerative lesions. Radiographic examination in 3 incidences in weight-bearing is essential, to determine the principal level of deformity. Tendon (posterior tibialis tendon) and ligamentous lesions (spring ligament and interosseous ligament) are analyzed on MRI or ultrasound. In fixed deformities, CT explores for arthritic evolution or specific etiologies. 3D CT reconstruction can analyze bone and joint morphology and contribute to the planning of any osteotomy. Medical management associates insoles and physiotherapy. Acute painful flatfoot requires strict cast immobilization. Surgical treatment associates numerous combinations of procedures, currently under assessment for supple flatfoot: for the hindfoot: medial slide calcaneal osteotomy, calcaneal lengthening osteotomy, or arthroereisis; for the midfoot: arthrodesis on one or several rays, or first cuneiform or first metatarsal osteotomy; for the ankle: medial collateral ligament repair with tendon transfer. Fixed deformities require arthrodesis of one or several joint-lines in the hindfoot; for the ankle, total replacement after realignment of the foot, or tibiotalocalcaneal fusion or ankle and hindfoot fusion; and, for the midfoot, cuneonavicular or cuneometatarsal fusion. Tendinous procedures are often associated. Specific etiologies may need individualized procedures. In conclusion, adult flatfoot tends to be diagnosed and managed too late, with consequent impact on the ankle, the management of which is complex and poorly codified.

Keywords: Calcaneal osteotomy; Flatfoot; Posterior tibialis tendon.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Flatfoot / diagnosis*
  • Flatfoot / etiology
  • Flatfoot / physiopathology
  • Flatfoot / therapy*
  • Foot Joints / physiopathology
  • Foot Joints / surgery
  • Humans
  • Orthopedic Procedures
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology
  • Osteoarthritis / surgery
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Shoes