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Congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV)

What is congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV)?

Congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV) is a foot deformity that a child is born with. It is also known as ‘clubfoot’ or ‘talipes’. CTEV is a common condition that occurs in approximately 1 in 1,000 births.

There is an hereditary influence which means that if there is a close relative with clubfoot the likelihood of having CTEV is 3 to 10 percent.

It is more common in boys and can affect one or both feet. The most common type of clubfoot is idiopathic meaning ‘no known cause’ but secondary CTEV can occur with other neurological conditions or syndromes such as spina bifida and arthrogryposis.

Child's feet both facing inwards

What is the treatment for CTEV?

The Ponseti method is the internationally recognised gold standard treatment for children with CTEV. The goals of treatment are to achieve a functional, pain-free foot, the ability to wear normal shoes and the avoidance of permanent disability. There are two phases which are ‘corrective’ and ‘maintenance’. We would hope to begin treatment at your first consultation.

Corrective phase

This involves weekly manipulation of the foot or feet as well as cast application. These treatments are provided by a specialist physiotherapist and a trained paediatric orthopaedic casting practitioner. There are usually 6 to 8 sequential manipulations and cast application required to achieve full correction.

Each week, your child will have their cast taken off with a cast saw and will get weighed without their cast on. During the weeks that the casts are applied, we advise that you do not bath your child at home. The cast is not waterproof so you cannot get it wet. However, you will be given the opportunity to bathe your child in clinic when the cast is removed each week.

baby wearing first cast on legs

Here is an example of the first cast

Leg cast on a baby being removed with a special cast saw

The cast is taken off with the cast saw each week


As part of this phase your child will usually need a tenotomy (division) of the Achilles tendon. This is the case in around 80 percent of children and this is because the Achilles tendon is tight in CTEV. This will usually be performed by the surgeon in the clinic using local anaesthetic. However, if your child is over 3 months old we would expect to perform this surgery in theatre under anaesthetic.

After the tenotomy, we would expect the cast to remain in place for 3 weeks. When this 3 weeks is over your child’s corrective phase is complete.

Maintenance phase

This part of the Ponseti method is crucial and the advice given must be followed as instructed.

When the final cast is removed, your child is ready to be fitted with boots and bar on the same day. The boots and bars are to be worn for 23 hours per day for 3 months.

After this initial period, your child will wear the boots and bar at night and for nap times only. This will mean approximately 14 hours per day. This will not affect your child’s development and they will learn to walk in the normal way and within the normal timescales.

Your child will be reviewed at regular intervals by the orthotist and orthopaedic team. Your child will usually be expected to follow the boots and bar regime until they are 4 years old.

If your child does not wear the boots and bar as instructed, the correction will have a 90 percent chance of failing before the age of 2.

A photo of the boots and bars used in the Ponseti method to treat talipes

An example of the boots and bars used in the Ponseti method to treat talipes

What do I need to know about the cast?


  • Keep cast clean and dry (if nappy leaks, wipe cast with baby wipes)
  • Check for any cracks or breaks
  • Check for cast slips – can you see all of your child’s toes?
  • Check for circulation – are toes normal colour and warm
  • Support the cast when lifting or putting your child into a car seat


  • Take the cast off under any circumstances
  • Put powder or lotions down the cast as these increase the risk of it slipping

Please contact us if you notice any of the following:

  • Increased swelling at the top of the cast or in the toes
  • Fluid or bad smell coming from the cast
  • Toes are not normal colour or cold
  • Any redness or rubbing the skin from the cast
  • You cannot see all of the toes, for example they have slipped back in the cast and are moving away from the edge of the foot plate
  • The cast is soft or cracked
  • The cast is too tight around the top of the leg (you should be able to get your index finger down the top)
  • Your baby kicks the cast off
  • Your baby has an unexplained high temperature or is very grizzly and unable to settle for feeding or sleep
Leg in a cast where the toes have moved inside the cast suggesting that it has slipped and needs to be removed

Example of a cast slip – the toes are inside the cast

How do I contact you?

Ring the plaster room and speak to one of the team. We may ask you to send us a photograph by email so that we can assess whether we need you to come into hospital or if you are more local, we may ask you to come straight in.

Please do not email us without ringing first as the email is not always checked regularly.

If out of hours, please attend your local Emergency Department for help and advice.

Who will I see in the team?

Please visit our Trust website to see all the professionals that will be involved with your child’s care, including their Orthopaedic Consultant, Physiotherapist, Casting Practitioner and Orthotist.

You can also visit the STEPS charity website for further information

Who to contact if you have a problem

Who can I contact if there is a problem with the cast?

Plaster Room (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) – 0114 271 7538

Email: scn-tr.talipesservice@nhs.net

This is for sending photos of the cast if you have concerns –please ring us as well if you send an email as this is not monitored regularly.

Out of hours – Emergency Department

Who can I contact if there is a problem with the Boots and bar?

Orthotics Reception (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) – 0114 271 7271

Who can I contact if there is a problem with clinic appointments?

  • Outpatient appointments team – 0114 271 7288
  • Mr Flowers secretary – 0114 271 7544
  • Miss Blakey secretary – 0114 271 7323
  • Mr Cashman secretary – 0114 305 3032
Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: TLP1

Resource Type: Article

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