Part II: Learning about Clubfoot and choosing a method of treatment
After learning about my son’s diagnosis of clubfoot. I headed to the Internet to collect as much information as I could. I learned that clubfoot is the result of abnormal development of muscles, tendons and bones in the foot while the fetus is forming during pregnancy. Researchers do not know what causes clubfoot, but they do know that it is twice as common in boys and occurs in both feet about 50% of the time. Clubfoot occurs in about 1 in 1000 lives births in the US.
After reading about the statistics and what clubfoot was, my next step was to learn how it is treated. Through my research I learned that there are a few different methods that doctors use for correcting clubfoot. The method that we decided that we wanted to use was the Ponseti Method. The Ponseti method is a non-invasive method that uses manipulation and casting right after birth followed up by the use of special shoes and a bar to correct the malformation. This treatment was developed by a physician in Iowa, Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, over 50 years ago. The treatment begins shortly after birth (within 5-7 days) and consists of manual manipulations followed by plaster casting. The plaster casts are then changed every 5-7 days and the deformity is usually corrected with 5-7 plaster cast changes. (The initial casting can take up to 7 weeks.) Following the casting the child then wears special shoes that are made of high-top open toes with a bar connecting the two shoes with the feet placed at 70 degree outward rotation. The baby will wear these shoes full-time for 3 months and then at night for the next 2-4 years.
Once my husband and I decided on the treatment plan that we wanted we then needed to choose a physician. There are only a few pediatric orthopaedic surgeons here in Arizona that use the Ponseti method and only two in the Phoenix area, so we interviewed both doctors to see which one we wanted. Upon meeting the surgeon that we chose, we knew immediately that he was the one for us. He explained his method, talked a little bit about his background and most importantly made us feel at ease. He was reassuring and calming…which was just what we needed.
While dealing with all of this, the rest of my pregnancy was relatively easy. I worked up until my due date while not missing any days of work and my biggest complaints were that I had horrendous heartburn and my little boy didn’t let me sleep much at night!
Because of the diagnosis we were scheduled to see a perinatologist at least every 4 weeks with each appointment always including a very in-depth 3D ultrasound…I was lucky because I felt like I knew exactly what he would look like when I would finally get to hold him. I knew that he had my nose and my cheeks…he was adorable!
I really am so very thankful that my the rest of my pregnancy was uneventful…I was really on an emotional rollercoaster dealing with all of the extra appointments that we had and learning about the birth defect…I don’t think that I could have handled much more. And I am also so very, very glad for the technology that we have…it is so amazing that the doctors are able to determine that a child has a birth defect while in-utero, so that my husband and I were able to plan for what was to come and we didn’t have any surprises on the day that he arrived!
To Be Continued...
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