Soft-tissue abnormalities associated with treatment-resistant and treatment-responsive clubfoot: Findings of MRI analysis

Daniel K. Moon, Christina A. Gurnett, Hyuliya Aferol, Marilyn J. Siegel, Paul K. Commean, Matthew B. Dobbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Clubfoot treatment commonly fails and often results in impaired quality of life. An understanding of the soft-tissue abnormalities associated with both treatment-responsive and treatment-resistant clubfoot is important to improving the diagnosis of clubfoot, the prognosis for patients, and treatment. Methods: Twenty patients with clubfoot treated with the Ponseti method were recruited for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of their lower extremities. Among these were seven patients (six unilateral cases) with treatment-responsive clubfoot and thirteen patients (five unilateral cases) with treatment-resistant clubfoot. Demographic information and physical examination findings were recorded. A descriptive analysis of the soft-tissue abnormalities was performed for both patient cohorts. For the patients with unilateral clubfoot, we calculated the percentage difference in cross-sectional area between the affected limb and the unaffected limb in terms of muscle, subcutaneous fat, intracompartment fat, and total area. With use of the Wilcoxon signed-rank test, we compared inter-leg differences in cross-sectional areas and the intracompartment adiposity index (IAI) between treatment-responsive and treatment-resistant groups. The IAI characterizes the cross-sectional area of fat within a muscle compartment. Results: Extensive soft-tissue abnormalities were more present in patients with treatment-resistant clubfoot than in patients with treatment-responsive clubfoot. Treatment-resistant clubfoot abnormalities included excess epimysial fat and intramuscular fat replacement as well as unique patterns of hypoplasia in specific muscle groups that were present within a subset of patients. Among the unilateral cases, treatment-resistant clubfoot was associated with a significantly greater difference in muscle area between the affected and unaffected limb (-247.8%) compared with treatment-responsive clubfoot (-26.6%) (p = 0.02), a significantly greater difference in intracompartment fat area between the affected and unaffected limb (402.6%) compared with treatment-responsive clubfoot (9%) (p = 0.01), and a corresponding higher inter-leg IAI ratio (8.7) compared with treatment-responsive clubfoot (1.5) (p = 0.01). Conclusions: MRI demonstrated a range of soft-tissue abnormalities in patients, including unique patterns of specific muscle-compartment aplasia/hypoplasia that were present in patients with treatment-resistant clubfoot and not present in patients with treatment-responsive clubfoot. Correlations between MRI, physical examination, and treatment responsiveness may aid in the development of a prognostic classification system for clubfoot. Level of Evidence: Prognostic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1249-1256
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Volume96
Issue number15
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 6 2014

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