The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the Ponseti method in reducing extensive corrective surgery rates for congenital idiopathic clubfoot.

Consecutive case series were conducted from January 1991 through December 2001. A total of 157 patients (256 clubfeet) were evaluated. All patients were treated by serial manipulation and casting as described by Ponseti. Main outcome measures included initial correction of the deformity, extensive corrective surgery rate, and relapses.

Clubfoot correction was obtained in all but 3 patients (98%). Ninety percent of patients required < /=5 casts for correction. Average time for full correction of the deformity was 20 days (range: 14-24 days). Only 4 (2.5%) patients required extensive corrective surgery. There were 17 (11%) relapses. Relapses were unrelated to age at presentation, previous unsuccessful treatment, or severity of the deformity (as measured by the number of Ponseti casts needed for correction). Relapses were related to noncompliance with the foot-abduction brace. Four patients (2.5%) underwent an anterior tibial tendon transfer to prevent further relapses.

The Ponseti method is a safe and effective treatment for congenital idiopathic clubfoot and radically decreases the need for extensive corrective surgery. This technique can be used in children up to 2 years of age even after previous unsuccessful nonsurgical treatment.