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Normal Function a Realistic Goal for Most Children Treated for Clubfoot


UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland has a team of dedicated specialists who provide comprehensive care for children born with clubfoot. The team includes:

  •       Pediatric orthopaedic surgeons
  •       Physician assistants
  •       Clinical nurse specialist
  •       Orthopedic cast technicians
  •       Orthotist

With treatment, most children born with clubfoot achieve normal function of the foot and are able to participate in sports and other activities over the course of their childhoods.

Clubfoot is the most common congenital musculoskeletal anomaly seen in newborns. Most cases are idiopathic and arise from spontaneous genetic mutations. Worldwide, clubfoot occurs in at a rate of 1-3 per 1,000 live births, with about 200,000 new cases annually. It occurs twice as often in boys than in girls.

The UCSF Benioff Children’s Oakland clubfoot program offers consultations on clubfoot identified in utero, so that parental stress can be minimized in advance of the birth, and so that the clubfoot team is prepared to assess the newborn at birth.

Treatment for clubfoot should begin within the first few weeks of life if the child is otherwise healthy. Weekly casting, releasing of the Achilles tendon, and bracing are the three components of treatment. The casting phase is usually 5-8 weeks, followed by a small surgical procedure to release the Achilles tendon, and then an additional three weeks of casting. After that, the bracing phase begins; this usually lasts for four years. The highest risk factor for not achieving a positive outcome is not complying with the bracing regimen.

The team understands how challenging this process can be for families. Education and support services are integral parts of the program, to help families adjust not only to having a newborn in the home, but one who needs monitoring until they reach skeletal maturation in adolescence.

For more information, call 877-822-4453 (877-UC CHILD) or contact pediatric orthopaedic surgeon Coleen Sabatini, MD, MPH.