Emerging Insights On Surgical Correction Of Laterally Deviated Toes

Thomas S. Roukis, DPM, PhD, FACFAS

   The surgical correction of laterally deviated toes I have described here allows for immediate weightbearing in a bulky, well-padded surgical dressing and postoperative shoe. Patients wear a “sling type” toe brace (such as a Budin splint) for 12 months to maintain the digit in a plantarflexed posture and limit the potential for secondary dorsal scar tissue induced migration of the digit.

   Additionally, one should instruct the patient to perform active and passive plantarflexion home physical therapy multiple times throughout the day to further prevent an extensus contracture. This also strengthens the intrinsic musculature and flexor apparatus for long-term digit stabilization.

   Since the techniques I have described are inherently stable, once one has removed the surgical dressings, the patient immediately can wear a gym shoe to limit postoperative edema. Once this subsides, patients are allowed to return to their shoe gear of choice.16,17 Occasionally, due to the transposition of the metatarsal head and small bone surface for contact, rotation of the metatarsal head or fracture of the dorsal shelf of bone occurs. However, loss of correction or the need to revise the surgery is exceptionally rare. Patients are allowed to return to activities as soon as their pain is tolerable and if they see a podiatrist at regular intervals to assess the incision site healing and any other related issues.

In Conclusion

Surgical correction of laterally deviated toes focuses on the lateral transposition Weil distal oblique metatarsal osteotomy coupled with soft tissue balancing of the MPJ and extensor digitorum longus tendon transfer to aid in transverse plane deformity correction at the lesser MPJ level. Additionally, one can correct the individual deformities of each toe and metatarsal simultaneously (i.e., medially deviated second toe and lateral deviated third toe), employing these techniques through the same incision.

   Surgeons should emphasize proper preoperative clinical and radiographic analysis, attention to surgical technique as well as appropriate and aggressive postoperative splinting and physical therapy in each instance to optimize outcomes.

   Dr. Roukis is attending staff in the Department of Orthopaedics, Podiatry, and Sports Medicine at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wis. He is a Fellow and the Secretary-Treasurer on the Board of Directors of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

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   For related articles, see “How To Conquer Crossover Second Toe Syndrome” in the August 2002 issue of Podiatry Today or “Essential Insights On Tendon Transfers For Digital Dysfunction” in the April 2010 issue.


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