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What’s New in Pediatric Orthopaedics

Every month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.

This month, Derek Kelly, MD, co-author of the February 15, 2017 Specialty Update on Pediatric Orthopaedics, selected the five most clinically compelling findings from among the 60 studies summarized in the Specialty Update.

Upper-Extremity Trauma
—A systematic review of eight randomized studies comparing splinting with casting for distal radial buckle fractures confirmed that splinting was superior in function, cost, and convenience, without an increased complication rate.1

Lower-Extremity Trauma
—A review of the treatment of 361 pediatric diaphyseal femoral fractures before and after the 2009 publication of AAOS clinical guidelines for treating such fractures revealed that the guidance had little impact on the treatment algorithm in one pediatric hospital.

Spine
—Bracing remains an integral part of managing adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, but patient compliance with brace wear is variable. A prospective study of 220 patients demonstrated that physician counseling based on compliance-monitoring data from sensors embedded in the brace improved patients’ average daily orthotic use.

Hip
—AAOS-published evidence-based guidelines on the detection and nonoperative management of developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) in infants from birth to 6 months of age determined that only two of nine recommendations gleaned from evidence in existing literature could be rated as “moderate” in strength:

  • Universal DDH screening of all newborn infants is not supported.
  • Imaging before 6 months is supported if the infant has one or more of three listed risk factors.

Seven additional recommendations received only “limited” strength of support.

—A study of the utility of inserting an intraoperative intracranial pressure (ICP) monitor during closed reduction and pinning for slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) found that 6 of 15 unstable hips had no perfusion according to ICP monitoring. However, all 6 hips were subsequently reperfused with percutaneous capsular decompression, and no osteonecrosis developed over the next 2 years.

Reference

  1. Hill CE, Masters JP, Perry DC. A systematic review of alternative splinting versus complete plaster casts for the management of childhood buckle fractures of the wrist. J Pediatr Orthop B. 2016 ;25(2):183–90.

For Perthes Disease, Are Two Osteotomies Better than One?

LCP_Osteotomies.pngIt is well accepted that kids with Legg-Calve-Perthes (LCP) disease do best when their condition is diagnosed and managed before 6 years of age. Surgical treatment is often recommended for children 6 years and older who have more severe femoral-head involvement, and orthopaedists perform combined pelvic and femoral varus osteotomies on some of those children.

In the February 1, 2107 edition of The Journal, Mosow et al. compare 10-year outcomes in 52 LCP patients who underwent combined osteotomies (mean age at surgery of 7.9 years) with results reported in the literature for single pelvic or femoral osteotomies. Although the postoperative radiographic and functional results after combined osteotomy were good, they were overall no better than those reported in the literature for either osteotomy alone.

The authors admit that in the absence of a randomized study design, these findings should be interpreted with caution, but they conclude that “it is not recommended that combined osteotomies for this age group routinely be used.”

JBJS On-Demand Webinar–Clubfoot: Predicting and Treating Ponseti Method Failures

jan. webinar speakers.JPG

The Ponseti method is a proven treatment for idiopathic clubfoot, yielding excellent outcomes with minimal pain or disability. However, as many as 40% of patients fail to respond to initial treatment or develop recurrent deformities.

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 8:00 PM EST, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery hosted a webinar that delved into two recent JBJS studies investigating how to predict which patients are most likely to get subpar results from the Ponseti method, and how best to manage clubfoot relapses if they occur.

  • Matthew Dobbs, MD, describes in detail various soft-tissue abnormalities present in patients with treatment-resistant clubfoot that are not present in treatment-responsive patients. These parameters could be used to predict which clubfoot patients are at greater risk of relapse.
  • Jose Morcuende, MD, will spotlight findings from a study that followed treated clubfoot patients for 50 years to determine whether relapses managed with repeat casting and tibialis tendon transfer during early childhood prevented future relapses.

This webinar was moderated by James Kasser, MD, surgeon-in-chief at Boston Children’s hospital and a member of the JBJS Board of Trustees. The webinar offered additional perspectives on the authors’ presentations from two clubfoot-management experts—Steven Frick, MD and Gregory Mencio, MD. The last 15 minutes was devoted to a live Q&A session, during which the audience asked questions of all four panelists.

Register now to watch the webinar on-demand!

JBJS Webinar–Clubfoot: Predicting and Treating Ponseti Method Failures

jan. webinar speakers.JPG

The Ponseti method is a proven treatment for idiopathic clubfoot, yielding excellent outcomes with minimal pain or disability. However, as many as 40% of patients fail to respond to initial treatment or develop recurrent deformities.

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 8:00 PM EST, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery will host a complimentary webinar that delves into two recent JBJS studies investigating how to predict which patients are most likely to get subpar results from the Ponseti method, and how best to manage clubfoot relapses if they occur.

  • Matthew Dobbs, MD, describes in detail various soft-tissue abnormalities present in patients with treatment-resistant clubfoot that are not present in treatment-responsive patients. These parameters could be used to predict which clubfoot patients are at greater risk of relapse.
  • Jose Morcuende, MD, will spotlight findings from a study that followed treated clubfoot patients for 50 years to determine whether relapses managed with repeat casting and tibialis tendon transfer during early childhood prevented future relapses.

This webinar is moderated by James Kasser, MD, surgeon-in-chief at Boston Children’s hospital and a member of the JBJS Board of Trustees. The webinar will offer additional perspectives on the authors’ presentations from two clubfoot-management experts—Steven Frick, MD and Gregory Mencio, MD. The last 15 minutes will be devoted to a live Q&A session, during which the audience can ask questions of all four panelists.

Seats are limited, so register now!

Reperfusion Patterns in Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Perfusion_MRI.pngIn the November 16, 2016 edition of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Kim et al. improve our understanding of how blood flow is restored to the necrotic femoral head in Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. Using a series of perfusion MRI scans, the authors evaluated 30 hips with Stage-1 or -2 disease; 15 of the hips were treated conservatively, and 15 underwent one of three operative interventions.

Revascularization rates varied widely (averaging 4.9% ± 2.3% per month), but the revascularization pattern was similar, converging in a horseshoe-shaped pattern toward the anterocentral region of the femoral epiphysis from the posterior, lateral, and medial aspects of the epiphysis. The MRIs yielded no evidence of regression or fluctuation of perfusion of femoral heads, which casts some doubt on the proposed repeated-infarction theory of pathogenesis for this disease.

In a related commentary, Pablo Castaneda emphasizes that the study was not designed to evaluate the effects of different treatments, but he says knowing about an MRI pattern that is predictive of final outcomes in Legg-Calve-Perthes disease “has potential for improving our prognostic abilities.” Still, neither the commentator nor the authors suggest routinely obtaining serial MRIs in this patient population.

JBJS Classics: Congenital Dislocation of the Hip

jbjsclassics-2016OrthoBuzz regularly brings you a current commentary on a “classic” article from The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. These articles have been selected by the Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editors of The Journal because of their long-standing significance to the orthopaedic community and the many citations they receive in the literature. Our OrthoBuzz commentators highlight the impact that these JBJS articles have had on the practice of orthopaedics. Please feel free to join the conversation by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” button in the box to the left.

Having passed the half-century mark with continued relevance, this classic JBJS article by T.G. Barlow, published in the British volume in 1962, rewards the reader with pearls and insights that can still help us make good decisions about treatment of infants with hip dysplasia. Exploring new approaches always pays rich dividends, and this report details Barlow’s observations from a five-year study (1957­­-1962) in which he examined all newborns at his hospital and followed them up at one year of age. This effort was undertaken at a time before the emerging field of pediatric orthopaedics had many full-time adherents.

Barlow studied nearly 10,000 newborns at the Hope Hospital in Manchester, England. He conducted the first examinations during the first week of life, in an era when newborns in the UK stayed in the hospital for at least one week. He carefully recorded his findings and made observations on incidence of hip dislocation, natural history, and treatment.

His first contribution, for which he is still remembered, was to show that in newborns, with their low resting muscle and tissue tension, the Ortolani test is often subtle, and a dislocated hip may escape notice. The Ortolani test was often impressive in older babies, but less so in newborns. Therefore, Barlow devised his eponymous test, which increases the proprioceptive feedback by applying axial pressure and provoking subluxation or dislocation. Simply put, it is often easier to feel the hip displacing with pressure than to feel it slip back in.  The number of babies who have benefited from this method of early detection is too numerous to count!

Barlow’s other observations are equally relevant and useful. He observed that many babies with dislocatable but non-dislocated hips will stabilize naturally. He showed that only one-eighth of unstable hips will have a persistent dislocation, which is why we now only treat dislocated hips immediately upon detection.  Recent articles1 have added further insights in this regard.

Barlow also showed that with a program of screening and treatment, no patient in his experience presented at a year of age with a hip dislocation. We still debate the proper method of early detection, but he properly targeted the neonatal period as the time that instability usually begins. Barlow also demonstrated a simple abduction splint made of aluminum and leather that holds the hips in flexion and abduction. Although the Pavlik harness has become more popular as an initial treatment, experts have recently come to realize that a fixed-angle brace can benefit some children who do not stabilize in a Pavlik.2

This classic article was fun to re-read and remains useful to general and pediatric orthopaedic surgeons. Barlow’s disciplined undertaking has shaped our understanding of this important disorder. The man and his insights are remembered for good reason.

Paul D. Sponseller, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor

References

  1. Upasani VV, Bomar JD, Matheney TH, Sankar WN, Mulpuri K, Price CT, Moseley CF, Kelley SP, Narayanan U, Clarke NM, Wedge JH, Castañeda P, Kasser JR, Foster BK, Herrera-Soto JA, Cundy PJ, Williams N, Mubarak SJ. Evaluation of Brace Treatment for Infant Hip Dislocation in a Prospective Cohort: Defining the Success Rate and Variables Associated with Failure. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2016 Jul 20;98(14):1215-21
  1. Sankar WN, Nduaguba A, Flynn JM. Ilfeld abduction orthosis is an effective second-line treatment after failure of Pavlik harness for infants with developmental dysplasia of the hip. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2015 Feb 18;97(4):292-7.

Ponseti Treatment Works in Walking-Age Kids with Residual Clubfoot Deformity

ponseti-photoDespite the remarkable success of modern treatments for congenital clubfoot, including the Ponseti method, some kids still end up with a rigid residual deformity after walking age. In the October 19. 2016 edition of JBJS, Dragoni et al. investigated the Ponseti treatment in 44 patients (68 feet; mean age of 4.8 years) who had been previously treated with various surgical and conservative protocols but whose outcomes were fair or poor, according to International Clubfoot Study Group scores.

The authors performed Ponseti manipulation and cast application with the patients under conscious sedation. Depending on the clinical situation, some patients also received percutaneous heel-cord surgery or percutaneous fasciotomy, and all those over 3 years old (88% of the feet) received tibialis anterior tendon transfer (TATT).

At a mean follow-up of just under 5 years, 84% of the feet had achieved excellent or good results. No feet showed a lack of plantar flexion or were not plantigrade. Despite the mobility problems that a series of long leg Ponseti casts posed for kids of walking age, the authors reported that “families enthusiastically agreed to continue the Ponseti treatment as soon as they looked at the improved shape of their child’s foot after removal of the first plaster cast.”

Measuring Clubfoot Brace Adherence

clubfoot-braces_10_5_16Relapse of clubfoot deformity has been attributed to non-adherence to post-corrective bracing recommendations. The October 5, 2016 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery contains a study by Sangiorgio, et al. in which wireless sensors measured the actual brace use in 44 patients aged 6 months to 4 years who were supposed to use a post-corrective foot abduction orthosis for an average of 12.6 hours per day. The authors compared the mean number of hours of daily brace use as measured by the sensors with the physician-recommended hours and with parent-reported hours of brace use.

Here’s what Sangiorgio et al. found:

–Median brace use recorded by the sensors was 62% of that recommended by the physician and 77% of that reported by parents.

–18% of the patients experienced relapse. The mean number of daily hours of brace use for those patients (5 hours a day) was significantly lower than the 8 hours per day for those who didn’t experience relapse.

While this study suggests that 8 hours or more of daily brace use may be helpful to prevent relapse, studies with larger cohorts will be needed to determine more definitive bracing minimums. Still, the authors say that “routine brace monitoring has the potential to accurately identify patients who are receiving an inadequate number of hours of brace use and facilitate more effective counseling of these families.”

Cardiopulmonary Effects of Scoliosis

ventilation-scatterplot_10_5_16The 3-dimensional spinal deformities associated with scoliosis may affect other organ systems. In the October 5, 2016 issue of The Journal, Shen et al. correlated radiographic severity of thoracic curvature/kyphosis with pulmonary function at rest and exercise capacity measured with a bicycle ergometer. Forty subjects with idiopathic scoliosis were enrolled in the prospective study (mean age 15.5 years), 33 of them female.

The study found no correlation between coronal thoracic curvature and static pulmonary function tests in the female patients. Female patients with a thoracic curve of ≥ 60° had lower blood oxygen saturation at maximal exertion during the exercise test, but overall exercise tolerance did not appear to be correlated with the magnitude of the thoracic curve and kyphosis. According to the authors, taken together, the many specific cardiopulmonary findings in this study suggest that “the cardiovascular system may be less affected than the respiratory system in patients with idiopathic scoliosis.”

Not surprisingly, exercise capacity was better in patients who performed regular aerobic exercise. Although physical training may not be able to change pulmonary pathology in this population, the authors emphasized that physical activity is still recommended for patients with idiopathic scoliosis for maintaining cardiovascular and peripheral muscle conditioning.

Are Ortho Patients Getting Too Many Pain Pills?

narc_usage_2016-10-03Surgeons often prescribe more postoperative pain medication than their patients actually use. That’s partly because there is limited procedure-specific evidence-based data regarding optimal amounts and duration of postoperative narcotic use—and because every patient’s “relationship” with postoperative pain is unique. Nevertheless, physician prescribing plays a role in the current opioid-abuse epidemic, so any credible scientific information about postoperative narcotic usage will be helpful.

The Level I prognostic study by Grant et al. in the September 21, 2016 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery identified factors associated with high opioid use among a prospective cohort of 72 patients (mean age 14.9 years) undergoing posterior spinal fusion for idiopathic scoliosis.

Higher weight and BMI, male sex, older age, and higher preoperative pain scores were associated with increased narcotic use after surgery. Somewhat surprisingly, the number of levels fused, number of osteotomies, in-hospital pain level, self-reported pain tolerance, and surgeon assessment of anticipated postoperative narcotic requirements were unreliable predictors of which patients would have higher postoperative narcotic use.

Because the authors found that pain scores returned to preoperative levels by postoperative week 4, they say, “further refills after this point should be considered with caution.” Additionally, after reviewing the cohort’s behavior around disposing of unused narcotic medication, the authors conclude, “We consider discussion of narcotic use and disposal to be an important component of the 1-month postoperative visit…This important educational opportunity could help decrease abuse of narcotics.”