Rectus femoris surgery was performed on 70 patients with cerebral palsy and stiff-knee gait. Fifty-three patients underwent distal rectus transfer, and 17 patients had distal rectus release with complete muscle mobilization. Gait analysis was performed preoperatively and postoperatively at a minimum of 1 year. Swing-phase peak knee flexion (PKF) was improved in the transfer group, allowing improved foot clearance and more efficient gait (p = 0.04). PKF in swing deteriorated slightly in the release group (p = 0.04). The presence of abnormal swing-phase electromyogram (EMG) activity in the rectus alone or abnormal combined rectus and vastus lateralis activity did not influence the PKF results in either surgery (p < 0.05). The Ely test had no predictive value in identifying patients with abnormal EMG activity (p > 0.05). Preoperative knee range of motion was not a significant variable in determining relative success of rectus surgery. No deleterious effects were observed in stance phase in either group (p > 0.05).

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