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Release: Oct. 27, 1999

New UI Health Care clinic, web site expands help to families of children with clubfoot

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A new clinic is making it easier for children with clubfoot to receive non-surgical, comparatively low-cost treatment for the deformity at the Children’s Hospital of Iowa, located in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Directed by Ignacio Ponseti, M.D., UI professor emeritus of orthopaedic surgery, the clinic increases the availability of physicians and staff who specialize in performing the treatment he perfected some 50 years ago, the Ponseti Method. In addition, parents of children with clubfoot can easily access information on the condition and the Ponseti Method by visiting a new web site and chat forum or by calling a new toll-free number.

Clubfoot is the most common birth defect of the lower extremity. It causes the foot to turn inward and point downward. If untreated, a child with clubfoot will have severely impaired walking, a smaller, less mobile foot, and possible psychological distress.

Conventional surgical treatment, currently used in half of all cases, can cost approximately $11,000 and is only 75 percent successful. The Ponseti Method costs around $2,000 and involves gentle, manual manipulation of the child’s foot and application of toe-to-groin plaster casts. The casts are changed weekly after a clinician manipulates softened foot ligaments to gradually achieve near-normal muscle and bone alignment. Five or six cast changes are sufficient to correct most clubfeet.

"Parents of infants born with clubfoot may be reassured that their baby, if otherwise normal, when treated by expert hands will have normal-looking feet with normal function for all practical purposes," said Ponseti, who has performed more than 1,000 successful procedures.

This week, the 85-year-old Ponseti is at the University of California, San Francisco to train physicians in the highly effective clubfoot treatment. In addition to Ponseti, the UI Health Care clubfoot clinic is staffed by Fred Dietz, M.D., and Stuart Weinstein, M.D., both UI professors of orthopaedic surgery.

For more information about the Ponseti Method, visit the UI Health Care web site at The site offers a chat forum for parents of children with clubfoot, answers to frequently asked questions, and a 20-minute video digitized for web use. Parents can also call the clinic toll-free at (888) 569-8510.

(NOTE TO EDITORS: UI Health Care orthopaedic surgeons Fred Dietz and Stuart Weinstein are available to talk about the Ponseti Method and the UI Clubfoot Clinic. Parents of children with clubfoot treated by the Ponseti Method, and adults who were treated as children, are also available for comment.)

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.