Background: Recent studies have questioned the efficacy of releasing hip flexion contractures and the resulting ankle position after tendoachilles lengthening in ambulating children with cerebral palsy (CP). Methods: Twenty-three ambulatory children with CP underwent 96 soft tissue-lengthening procedures without bony surgery. Preoperative and postoperative clinical and computerized gait data were reviewed. Results: Static contractures improved reliably, with improvements in all areas measured, including hip flexion contracture (14 degree improvement), hip abduction (19 degree improvement), popliteal angle (26 degree improvement), and ankle dorsiflexion (11 degree improvement). The changes in computerized gait data were less uniform. The knees showed significant benefits, as evidenced by improved maximal knee extension in stance phase (37.3 degree preop and 19.9 degree postop) and at initial contact (51.6 degree preop and 34.8 degree postop). At the hip, a statistically significant improvement was only seen in maximum hip extension in stance phase (minimum hip flexion), and the magnitude of this change was only 4.6 degree (15.3 to 10.7 degree). There were no significant changes at the pelvis. At the ankle, the tendency was toward calcaneal gait after Achilles tendon lengthening, with excessive dorsiflexion seen both in stance (17.3 degree) and at toe off (-6.9 degree). Temperospatial parameters showed improved stride length, but no significant changes in gait velocity or cadence. Discussion: The persistence of crouch postoperatively, though improved, likely limited the potential changes in hip kinematics. As this study excluded patients undergoing osseous surgery, it is possible that lever arm dysfunction may have contributed to the ongoing crouch. The results of this study suggest that static contractures and knee kinematics improve reliably after soft tissue surgery in children with CP, but that caution must be exercised when considering heel cord lengthening in these children. Level of Evidence: Therapeutic level II. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
- Cerebral palsy
- Gait analysis
- Muscle-tendon lengthening
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine