Congenital talipes equinovarus

Last revised by Dr Henry Knipe on 14 Sep 2022

Congenital talipes equinovarus is considered the most common anomaly affecting the feet diagnosed on antenatal ultrasound.

While some use talipes equinovarus and clubfoot synonymously, in certain publications, the term clubfoot is considered a more general descriptive term that describes three distinct abnormalities:

  • talipes equinovarusadduction of the forefoot, inversion of the heel and plantar flexion of the forefoot and ankle
  • talipes calcaneovalgus: dorsal flexion of the forefoot with the plantar surface facing laterally
  • metatarsus varus: inversion and adduction of the forefoot alone

It carries an estimated incidence of 0.5-5% of live births 4. Some reports suggest a male predilection with a male to female ratio of 2:1. The condition is bilateral in more than half of cases.

There is an immense number (estimated at 200) 8 of associations:

The deformity involves both ankle and subtalar joints. The malalignment is fixed by joint, ligamentous and tendinous contractures.

There may be a familial predilection in ~15% of cases 9. If detected antenatally, a careful search for other associated anomalies is recommended.

Assessment requires weight-bearing DP and lateral radiographs. Where weight bearing is not possible, it should be simulated.

Talipes equinovarus consists of four elements 7:

10-20% of individuals with prenatally diagnosed clubfoot may have a normal foot or positional foot deformity requiring minimal treatment. Conversely, 10-13% of prenatally diagnosed individuals with isolated clubfoot will have complex clubfoot postnatally, dependent on the presence of additional structural or neurodevelopmental abnormalities 13-15.

Sonographic features may vary depending on severity. Both the tibia and fibula may be in the same image as the medially deviated foot and the foot may additionally appear plantar flexed.

Many (at least 50%) require orthopedic intervention 8. The Ponseti method is a manipulative technique that corrects congenital clubfoot without invasive surgery. Therapeutic options range from casting and manipulation, through to surgical release. Overall prognosis will often depend on other associated conditions. Isolated conditions may be treated successfully 8.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: clinical photograph
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  • Case 1
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  • Case 2
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  • Case 4
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  • Case 5: lateral talocalcaneal angle of 14 degrees
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  •  Case 6: in fetus
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  • Case 7
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  • Case 8
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  • Case 9: antenatal - 4d reconstruciton
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  • Case 10
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  • Case 11
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  • Case 12
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  • Case 13: bilateral congenital talipes equinovarus in an adult
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  • Case 14
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