Talipes Equinovarus


If a scan has shown talipes one of our doctors will have explained this to you and this page aims to give basic information about the condition. If you would like to discuss things further with one of us we will be happy to talk to you.

  • What is it?

This is a condition affecting one or both feet which are turned inwards (club foot).

  • How common is it?

About one in every 1,000 babies are born with talipes.

  • How did it happen?

Talipes usually happens 'out of the blue'. It is not due to a defect in either of the parents, or because the mother has done 'something wrong' during or before the pregnancy. Very rarely it is due to a genetic condition that runs in the family.

  • Will it happen again?

This is extremely unlikely; the chances are usually no greater than those of any other couple (1 in 1,000).

  • Is there anything else wrong with the baby?

In approximately five out of every ten fetuses with talipes there are other serious abnormalities. These include Trisomy 18 or Edward syndrome, (a lethal chromosomal abnormality), spine bifida or brain abnormality, various conditions that cause trapping of the feet in the wrong position because of a lack of fluid around the baby, or an abnormality of the muscles and nerves causing paralysis.

A detailed ultrasound scan will help detect most of these defects, but it is also necessary to take a sample of fetal blood to diagnose chromosomal abnormalities. Cordocentesis or amniocenteses carry a small (1%) risk of miscarriage. It would also be necessary to carry out a scan every few weeks to check that the movements of the baby remain normal.

  • What are my options?

Provided talipes is the only abnormality present, the outlook is generally good and parents usually choose to continue with the pregnancy. However you also have the option of termination, especially if the fetus is found to have additional defects.

  • What will happen to the baby after it is born?

After birth the baby will be examined by a paediatrician who will decide whether or not it is necessary to strap the baby's feet and whether physiotherapy will be necessary. There is no need for the baby to be taken to the neonatal intensive care unit or for you to stay in hospital for any longer than you originally planned.

  • Will the baby need an operation?

The orthopaedic surgeon will examine the baby every few months. Depending on the condition of the feet they may decide to get an orthopaedic surgeon to decide if an operation is necessary or not.

The operation is usually carried out when the baby is about nine months old. In the operating theatre the baby is given general anaesthetic.

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