Dr. Coleen Sabatini presents "Clubfoot" at the UCSF Pediatric Musculoskeletal and Sports Medicine Conference 2023 in Berkeley, CA.
All right. So, um our next speaker is Doctor Colleen Sabatini. Uh She's one of our uh pediatric orthopedic surgeons here at U CS F. Uh She did her uh training at the Harvard Combined Orthopedic Residency uh program and did her pediatric fellowship at Hospital L A. Um She also serves as the uh vice Chair for Health Equity and Academic Affairs here at U CS F Department of Orthopedics. Welcome, Doctor Sabatini. Thank you. Good morning. Oh, come on now. It's time to wake up people. Good morning. Hey, we're gonna talk about the world's best topic in musculoskeletal health, which is feet. All right. Are you guys ready? It's gonna be super riveting. Hang in there with me. I am not known to be brief. Um So I will try to go through this quickly. Uh and certainly, um hopefully have time at the break for any questions that might arise. Um So we're gonna talk about foot conditions in the newborn. I have no relevant disclosures. Uh The learning objectives is to, to go over some basic foot conditions that are seen in newborns. Half an hour is not enough to talk about all foot in all Children, but we're gonna focus on the little baby feet first. Um, talk about how we're gonna evaluate these feet when we see them in clinic. Um, we meaning pediatricians, not we, meaning orthopedic surgeons. Um, and then went to a refer for specialty care. So, uh it is just a foot. What could possibly go wrong? This is our interactive moment. I'd like you to just throw out things that you might see in the foot of a newborn who sees newborns. What? Oh, there's some people who don't see newborns. Well, you're in for a ride. Um, what might we see in the foot of a newborn? Hi, Sabrina Club foot. Very good. What else? Me said Ductus. I was a drummer back in the day. I can't hear very well. So, talk loudly. They're purple, purple feet. That's actually a real thing. We're not talking about that today. But that, that certainly does happen. I see parents that are really freaked out. Quite honestly. Sometimes I get a little freaked out but it's normal polydactyly. The opposite of polydactyly, which is extra toes is, which is not enough to. What about if those toes are connected? We got syndactyly, right. We got congenital vertical tail. We have all sorts of things. Right. So, oh, my goodness. There's lots of little things that can go wrong in the foot of little people. So, you guys did a really good job covering the vast majority of those macrodactyly. Is enlarged toes, you can have a complete absence of the foot, uh or some of the toes from an amniotic band syndrome and hemimelia, which are either not having a fibula, not having a tibia, and therefore not having a side of the foot, depending on which part is missing. And then certainly as we get into older Children, we can start having problems with flat feet, which by the way, all Children have, we'll talk about that in a second when they're First born coalitions, um cavi or Cable Feet, all the um avascular necroses that happened in the foot and those things on the other side, we're not really talking about today. So when we talk about examining the foot, we really divide the foot into the four ft, the mid foot and the hind foot and they're sort of that's distinguished based on the bones. So the four ft is the phalanges and the meals, the mid foot is the NVI the cuboid and the um K forms, I guess there's not a pointer. So I will point with my hand. Um Oh, look, can I do this? No. Um And then the hind foot is just the taus and the Calcaneus. And just in case you ever get this at trivia night in the adult human foot, there are 26 bones in the foot. Um in Children, there actually appears to be others. Um But things ossify over time when you're looking at the foot really, um, the foot is gonna differ depending on the age and the functional ability of the child. Um, and so do the conditions that we're talking about today. But really, your exam will start with just inspecting the foot and looking at what position it's resting in. Is it pointed down and curved in? Is it sitting up? Like is it propped up against the tibia? You really want to look at the skin folds and the creases of the foot because that will tell you if there's something potentially wrong or not. And then you want to check the motion up and down side, decide we're not going for, you know, anything fancy here. And then is the foot really stiff or is it actually supple um in the older Children? So, outside of this talk, obviously, if a kid is presenting with pain, the most important thing is palpation on your physical exam. So if you have a child who's coming to you with pain in their foot, or we're talking about an older child, you actually want to sit there and palpate the anatomical structures of the foot because that will tell you a lot more information than any imaging study you can obtain. And then if it's an ambulatory child, you wanna check gate, but let's talk about newborn feet because we obviously can't check gate in a newborn. Um So from when we look from the side of the foot, you want to see if the foot is pulled up abnormal, like, oddly because that could be a cacao valgus foot or a congenital vertical tali. Is it plant our flex down because that could be a club foot or some sort of abnormality with the achilles tendon or is it resting neutrally where we would expect it to? You wanna look at the bottom of the foot? Is it curving inward, which would be metasis AUC or is it going oddly out, which might be calcaneal vagus or again, is it sitting neutral where we are all happy to have it? Um And then in a child who can stand, you really wanna look from the back or in a newborn through at the back of the heel because if the heel is really rotated inward, that's a virus or if it's outward, that's valgus and those are associated with the different conditions we're gonna talk about today. So you're gonna look from the side, you're gonna look from the bottom and you're gonna look from the back and you're looking for the position of the foot in any abnormal um, abnormal creases. So, physical exam alone is usually all that's necessary um in a newborn foot to determine if there's something wrong. So, again, resting position, is it flexible? Importantly, is the achilles tendon tight and are there abnormal creases? So, I'm, I've reiterated that point a couple of times now. Um And then x-rays are usually not useful. So please don't irradiate the foot of a newborn. Um, because it doesn't usually tell us anything. If you just order normal x-rays, it's better if you're concerned to sit and you're not sure what's happening to send to one of us. So we can do an exam and order the correct x-ray. Because if we're concerned about a congenital vertical tail, for example, we're gonna order a very different set of x-rays than a club foot where we wouldn't order no x-rays. Um So interactive moment. What is this? Yeah, it's a what it is, it's all messed up. So what do we see here? We see a foot that is severely Dorsey flexed so much that the top of the foot is actually touching the tibia, the foot itself actually looks OK. Um This is a Calcaneal valgus foot. So, uh this is a up to about one out of 1000 births. It can be quite grows looking like the family is usually very freaked out about this. How many of you have seen this? It's quite common. So I imagine in most practice. Wow, that actually surprises me. Um So the hind foot is externally rotated and Dorsey flexed and the foot is averted, right? So the literally the foot is cocked up and basically touching the tibia. And when you try to bring the foot down, there's limited plantar flexion. All right. This is a positional issue. This is because of the way the foot was positioned in utero. Um, and the treatment for it is parental reassurance, this will get better. All right, if they feel like they have to do something because they're grossed out by the fact that their child's foot is like touching their tibia, which it is a little unsettling then doing some stretching is fine. So the foot is up and out. So bring it down and in and then offer some more reassurance. Um Most of these resolve in the first few weeks to months of life and basically all of them resolve by nine months. Um And you should only refer them to us if you or the parent needs some additional reassurance. Um I would say that and that's fine. That's what we're here for. We love you guys. Um So we, I would say that these package foot packaging problems, particularly if there's any possibility of a family history of um of a hip problem to make sure you do a screening hip ultrasound at six weeks. For me, these fall in the same category as a breach baby just because of positioning issues. The one thing to be very aware of is that there is a difference between these two ft. Um And the Calcaneal valgus foot is an, the apex of the deformity is at the ankle joint if you see an ankle joint that looks normal, but it's actually curved more proximal to the ankle joint, that's a deformity of the tibia that's called posteromedial Boeing, that is a different entity that does need to be referred, not for the foot problem, but because over time that bow, if it doesn't resolve will need to be treated. And because those Children tend to have a significant leg length difference. So if it is a true cacao vagus foot, it is just, it is flexible at the ankle joint, the tibia itself looks normal. Um And so that's the one thing to distinguish and that is all we'll talk about with that topic. What is this? My beautiful friends? Does that help? Oh, yes, my people. Um So this is club foot. Um And, and really, you should tell me, well, we can't tell for sure until we can stretch the achilles tendon, but that's what we're about to talk about. So club foot, there's a lot of words there. I'm just gonna tell you that it is a structural deformity of the foot related to abnormal leg development and abnormal musculature of the lower leg. So it's called club foot, which makes everybody think it's the foot. That is the problem. It's actually the muscles of the lower leg that results in the foot deformity. We treat the foot deformity, we can't fix the muscles of the leg. Um But it's why we're gonna go through this long course of treatment that I'm about to describe to you. It is the most common musculoskeletal anomaly around the world that Children are born with. Um and it's ranges from 1 to 7 out of 1000 live births depending on what ethnic group you're speaking of. Um, and based on current live birth statistics, that's about 200,000 new cases of club foot annually in the world. It is more common in males than females. We used to think it was 4 to 1. Now, it's more like 2 to 1 and it is bilateral in about 50% of cases. So some kids have just one side. Many kids have both sides. The Polynesian um population is the most at risk of club foot in uh Asian communities are at least at risk of club foot and everybody else sort of falls in between those statistics. The number one risk factor for club foot is a family history of club foot. But I would say in my practice and I run the Club Foot program at Children's Oakland that the vast majority of um families, this is a spontaneous mutation and there is nobody else in the family. With club foot history of maternal smoking increases the risk of club foot 20 fold. So yet another reason to not smoke while pregnant. Um But again, most of these are spontaneous mutations. It does map to a gene now, which is the pit X one gene, which is a transcription factor critical for limb development. So it is a genetic problem. The number one thing that I tell all my families when I'm meeting with them for the first time is that this is not their fault, right? Because there's lots of mother-in-laws who blame it on the pregnant woman and it causes all this strife in the family like she did nothing wrong, she didn't eat the wrong food or do the wrong whatever. Like this is nobody's fault. This just happens and it's a treatable condition. 80% are idiopathic, meaning that that's the only thing that's wrong with the child. 20% are a syndromic and there's a variety of things that club foot can be associated with. But clubfoot, unlike other foot deform, some other foot deformities does not raise your concern for a syndromic or other underlying congenital problems the same way because 80% are idiopathic. Again, it's a whole lower leg problem, not just a foot problem. And, and that's just important to know because um since the leg muscles stay abnormal, the deformity can come back if the family does not comply with treatment. And that's why the treatment that we're gonna talk about is so important. There are four parts of a club foot deformity. Um And so this distinguishes it very clearly from other foot problems. So a cavi is a high arch of the foot adductus is the medial, um medial deviation of the four ft varus is the heel going underneath media and a quus is the achilles tendon being tight. If you wanna act, learn that you can put your hand on the table, make a high arch of the foot. Curl your hand in for the abductus, roll the heel underneath for the virus and then tighten your achilles tendon. And you'll see that when this baby is born, you're looking at the bottom of the foot. All right. And that's those four parts of the deformity. This is all of the things we teach our residents and ourselves about all the patho anatomy. You don't need to know all of this. But just to know that there's a lot of things going wrong in this foot. All right. These are all the abnormal, an atomic relationships that are occurring in a club foot. But the single most important thing on physical exam is to check if the achilles tendon is tight or not because there's many Children who are born with their feet a little bit curved in and then their natural position of rest is for the feet to go like this. So when you look at them, they look like they might be a club foot. All right. And so on exam, the most important thing to do is to stretch the foot out and up. And if the foot fully Dorsey flecks up, then it's not a club foot because the achilles tendon is not tight. So that's how you're gonna distinguish a meta AUC from a true club foot. And if you're ever not sure that's why we're here. Right. But that is the most important thing if you can bring that foot around and all the way up normal, that is not a club foot and does not need an immediate referral. Um And so you can see on this patient right here that the foot deformity actually looks quite severe, but you can stretch it a fair amount. But because this does not Dorsey flex well above 90 degrees, this is a club foot, ok, in a non Clubfoot patient, that foot will go up nicely above 90 degrees. And so we do not need to treat them. The club foot treatment. Has anybody ever taken care of a patient who's undergoing club foot treatment? Yay. So, you know, we do all these cute little casts. Please don't tell them that we're slowing down their development because we are not. Um, so we do these cer casts. So multiple casts each week over usually on average 5 to 8 weeks, we then do a small surgical procedure where we cut the achilles tendon that is needed in about 95% of patients with club foot. Only very few don't need that procedure. Then we do another three weeks of casting during which time the achilles tendon grows back and then we enter a brace treatment phase. Um We do say that the earlier treatment starts the better, but like a couple of weeks doesn't make a huge difference. It's much more important that mom and baby get home and that all the latching and fabulous bonding is occurring and then we can add a cast to the mix of that. But if things are going well, we're happy to start usually within the first 1 to 2 weeks of life. Um, and then severity, um, varies. So some club feet, correct, like in three or four casts and other ones can take 12 or more. And so, depending on the underlying tissues, um, and the stiffness of the foot, it can take longer. The anatomy is usually done depending on the surgeon, either awake or under general anesthesia or one or the other. Depending on the patient, it is a tiny little incision and we just cut the achilles tendon across. It goes like this. The foot comes up for the first time in its life and the achilles tendon will grow back in the three weeks that it's in a cast. And this, you can just see how, how limited Dorsey flexion is. And then after we cut the achilles tendon, how much we can bring the feet up yay, no achilles. Um All right. And then we enter the brace phase. This is the most critical part. Uh because without bracing, there will be recurrent, we call this a foot abduction brace. So if the feet are abducted and externally rotated with Dorsey Flexion, the schedule schedule of this is somewhat surgeon dependent, but the vast majority of us will do at least three months of full time brace wear um, some of us will go full time until they start to pull the stand. Once they start to pull the stand, then it's night time and nap time until four years of age. Some surgeons are three years, some are four, some people are five. Um, and then we go longer if there's been recurrence along the way. This part is the most difficult part because the parents have to be like willing to do the bracing. And so it's very, very important that we um that we adhere to strict bracing schedules. Um And uh uh and it really can be hard for some of the families. It does not slow down the children's development in any significant way. So please resist the urge to tell the families to stop bracing when the surgeon has not told them that um about 50% of kids will need another round of intervention, whether that be casting or a bit more surgery. And the number one risk factor for that unfortunately, is parents not wearing the braces the way that they're supposed to. And then one of the many things that we watch for over time is not just recurrence of the deformity, but some Children will develop what we call dynamic stup, which is an over pull of their tibi anterior. And that might require surgery after the age of three. Some things that for you to know otherwise about the condition, if it is unilateral, the involved foot and calf will always be smaller than the other side, some very noticeably some very subtly and that leg might be a little bit shorter. So we do watch these Children for a leg length difference and about 10 to 15% might have a clinically relevant leg length difference over time. That's only if it's unilateral, obviously, if it's bilateral, both legs are impacted the same and there's not usually that level of asymmetry, it's not always easy. So we have some families come in that are like, oh yeah, the my, my O B G N or my pediatrician or my, somebody just said this was so like you guys put on some socks and it's totally easy. Um We just want to set realistic expectations, it's not socks and it's not always easy. Some, some families really struggle with this. And so it's important to make sure that we don't set some really low bar for what this might be. We don't need them to be alarmed and the Children often go on to have wonderful lives and can become Olympic athletes just like all the kids you're gonna hear about tomorrow in the sports conference. But um but they're not always, you know, elite athletes. So um and then, yeah, we said the bar doesn't slow down development and that recurrence can be a big deal. So it can mean casting repeats anatomy, the Tibet transfer even larger, extensive release of the club foot, one part so off of club foot, moving on, the most common thing that we need to distinguish club foot from is just Metasis AUC. And you know, from your foot thing that you did on the table that meta AUC is one of the four parts of a club foot deformity. It is simply an inward deviation to the four ft relative to the hind foot. Um But the difference is that the achilles tendon is not tight. If the achilles tendon is tight, that is a pathological problem. And it needs to be referred. If the achilles tendon is flexible and the foot is just a bit inwardly deviated. That is mear AUC and does not usually need early referral. All right, the best way to check this is to turn the patient on their belly, look at their feet from the bottom. And we do what's called a heel by sector line where you basically draw a line in the center of the heel and extend it through the foot. And you will see that normally that line goes between the either up the second toe or between two and three. And in meta adductus, it will go through the lateral toes and in your clinic and in my clinic, that is the way that we watch this over time, right? So if a child comes in and they have a very flexible foot, but it's deviated inward, you can document your heel bise line, maybe it's up the fourth and then the next well, child check, you see them for you, check that again. Now it's up the third, you and the parent are very assured that it is getting better. All right, so that heel bise line is really critical. So again, the major thing here is that the heel cord is not tight. This is very common. One out of 100 Children are born with this. Um We don't really know why it happens, but again, probably due to just intra uterine compression kind of a packaging problem. Not really sure based on current data, whether it is associated with D DH or torticollis, but it's very important to make sure you do a good neck and hip exam and assess D DH risk factors in this population and consider an ultrasound if there are any concerns. Um And then as you heard probably from Doctor Livingston earlier this morning, that mears AUC when they start walking does give them an in towing git. So one of the things you need to know is contributing there, um We don't actually um need to do any treatment that's usually resolves spontaneously within the first six months to four years of life. The parents can stretch the feet if they wish there's no harm in parents stretching feet. So if it makes them feel better, let them do it. Um But 5 to 15% of kids may need some sort of intervention and if they have a pretty severe metasis adductus with some deep creases. We often will cast them in the first year of life just to make everybody feel better. And if they have persistent abductus with a stiff foot as they get older, then sometimes we will do surgery for that. So the vast majority are flexible and we just observe if they're rigid and under five will cast. If they're rigid. And over five, we'll often do some foot um osteotomies to realign the foot. What is this? Somebody started to drift away on me and now pop quiz. What's that? I don't know if the person in the back is telling me my time is up or if they're actually answering the question. What did you say? Nice. All right. So this is a classic rock or bottom foot deformity, right? So the foot has this little boat shape to it with a, a crease in the back at the achilles tendon and the foot is Dorsey flexed. This is a rare condition. One out of 1000 sorry, one out of 10,000 at most. Um births. But man to miss it is a problem and this is really functionally. It's a irreducible dorsal dislocation of the navicular on the taus. It gives them this deformity. We'll look at the pathology of that in a second. It too is genetically based and most importantly, this condition is actually has a much higher association with an underlying neuromuscular condition. Um such as arthur posy spina bifida, uh or tethered cord. So these are things to, to think about. And in this population, we're much likely to screen them for those abnormalities on your clinical exam. Again, that rock or bottom foot and that little post your heel crease are gonna raise your suspicion. This is just an x-ray because, you know, I'm an orthopedic surgeon and I love x-rays. Um and the tay, which normally should be a horizontal bone is going vertical. And that by definition is a congenital vertical tali what's happening then is I'm really paralyzed without a pointer. The um the viar is dorsally dislocated onto the tailor head. Um And so the whole treatment is predicated on trying to bring that down and realign the foot. This is not just like Clubfoot where Club foot needs treatment, this too needs treatment. You can't just observe it. Um And we usually start this around 3 to 12 months of age. We would start it earlier if we saw these patients earlier, but Clubfoot usually comes to us sooner. This often takes a little bit longer for people's suspicions to get raised about it. And like club foot is a series of casts followed by surgery a little bit of a bigger surgery than Clubfoot. Um and bracing. So just to sort of make sure that people are aware of this condition and that you refer it if you see it. So polydactyly, um you guys probably see this often in some ways more than us, right? So um polydactyly is an extra digit or extra multiple digits of the foot. If it's a little small, tiny little thing, um you guys see that more than us actually, you know that you can tie those off. Um Either uh when the, when the baby is born or soon after I would just say if you're going to do this, do this as early in life as possible, use a, a 20 nylon or a silk tie, make sure it goes to the very base of the thin peta of the toe. And we're not gonna do this if there's bony pieces in the toe. Um Or if it's like a actual, like not totally floppy toe, if you don't get the, the tie all the way down, you can get um a residual skin tag or a painful neuroma. So you really want to take the time and get that down. Make sure you tie it securely and really tight because rapid necrosis is really best for preventing infection and problems. Um I couldn't find a good example of a toe on the internet for not doing it well, but like this is a hand and you can see that the tie is, is too far off the skin so that, that this little guy is gonna be left with a little skin nubbin and possibly a painful neuroma. And so we don't want to do that if we're gonna tie these off, it has to go all the way to the base. Um, the polydactyly such as this, which is a preaxial polydactyly. Um, any of the polydactyly, they can have a different genetic basis. Um The, the foot is different than the hand. The hand is much more associated with other congenital anomalies. When you see polydactyly of the hand, the foot has less association with other problems. Um, and it is less frequently bilateral within the hand. Um And then if you have post axl polydactyly, which is um where it's the small toe side. Um it's, that's much more common and you can also tend to see syndactyly of the 4th and 5th toes in those kids. Remember to, to syndactyly we don't really worry about because you don't need to separate your toes and grab things with them. Uh like the hand preaxial polydactyly. So big toe side, more likely to have other associated conditions. In many cases for those kids, we will send them to genetics for evaluation. Um If the family wishes for foot polydactyly, it is a surgical treatment. Um and usually in the US, most families opt for surgical treatment of, of polydactyly of the foot, mostly for shoe wear purposes um and sort of overall cosmesis. Um But if it is just six toes, they're well aligned, it doesn't usually cause problems unless um unless it's a shoe wear problem. If the toes are out of plain which often happens where one of the toes is like cocked up. Um, that can certainly cause problems because if, um, we just wear so many shoes in our society that it can cause rubbing, these are just obligatory toe removal pictures because that's awesome. There's an extra toe and then it's gone. Isn't that awesome? Thank you for surgery. All right. And then finally, let's talk about curly toe because that's another very common baby toe problem. Um, so curly toe is common congenital deformity. It's usually a contracture of a flexure, digital longus or breath is tendon. We don't really know how often this happens, but it's pretty darn common if I look at my own clinic. Um, because there's so many people that have it who you never actually see. Right? So the denominator is probably much bigger than we appreciate. Um, curly toe usually involves the lateral toes and it's usually three through five. Um, and so you can have like number four curly toe or you can have all of them. Have you guys seen these right where the little toes are sort of deviated underneath. Many parents really freak out about this. Um And the important thing is to know that it's gonna be ok. Um, it is usually bilateral again that it can be very vexing to parents, people very much worry about toes. Um, but it's usually symptomatic. The one thing is that if the toes are quite deformed and a little bit stiff, then you can get some pressure symptoms. Um, depending on your shoe wear, choices later in life. And so that does sort of, you know, raise concerns. We do not x-ray these because honestly, when you x-ray them all you get is like overlapped toes and it tells you nothing. So please don't waste your time or theirs. Um, the, you know, 20% of them will resolve totally spontaneously. So you'll see them in the little babies and then over time they'll go away. Um, if we, if they don't go away really, the, the treatment is observation, um, because they are usually asymptomatic and don't need anything. Um, there are some families who like, read a lot of things on the internet and start buying, you know, toe tape and toe straps and all this stuff. There's really been no study that shows that those are beneficial, but again, they're not harmful either. So, if it makes everybody feel better, that's ok. Um, in Children, like this is one of my patients who, you know, it did not get better over time, the toe became actually quite rigid and it was causing problems with when walking that those two toes were really pushing against each other. The treatment then is to release the tendon straighten out the toe pin it. Um, and then we go back and take the pin out. Um, some weeks later, we usually only do that once the Children are well over the age of three and only if it's a kind of rigid deformity that's causing true symptoms. Um, and, and skin problems between the toes. Uh, the surgery usually works pretty well, but sometimes we do have to do recurrence surgery and sometimes we'll just fuse the toes once the kid gets older. So, in summary, for referring for, um, for newborn foot conditions, the things that you really want to look for and send right away our club foot and congenital ta the things that you can wait and see if it improves on its own. Our can um cal vagus foot as long as it's not post remedial bowing of the tibia and metasis, a ductus polydactyly. We don't really need to see any time, you know, urgently, we could see it sort of in the first year of life and we often will wait um after age 1 to 3 to even consider surgery. And then after a few years, if the toes are symptomatic, then we will see curly toes. The thing that we do not need to see is flat foot and little Children. Um So babies have flat feet, one year olds have flat feet, lots of people have flat feet. Children do not normally develop their medial longitudinal arch until the ages of two and six. So every one year old is gonna have flat foot and does not need to see an orthopedic surgeon. As long as the achilles tendon is flexible um And remember that 20% of adults have uh a flat foot and don't develop an arch over time in an ambulatory person. The best thing to do is look at them from the back when they're standing, you'll see that their arch is collapsing when they go up on their toes, if they reconstitute their arch, like if an arch comes in when they're up on their toes, that by definition is a flexible flat foot, which is not a pathologic condition. If the arch doesn't come back, or in fact, they're not even able to get on their toes, then you would send them to us. Or if on your exam that achilles tendon is tight, but little babies with flat feet are totally normal and do not need to hang out with the orthopedic surgeon. Thank you very much.