Reported selection criteria for adult acquired flatfoot deformity and posterior tibial tendon dysfunction: Are they one and the same? A systematic review.

Reported selection criteria for adult acquired flatfoot deformity and posterior tibial tendon dysfunction: Are they one and the same? A systematic review.
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Ross MH, Smith MD, Vicenzino B,

Ross MH, Smith MD, Vicenzino B, (click to view)

Ross MH, Smith MD, Vicenzino B,


PloS one 2017 12 0112(12) e0187201 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0187201
Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD) and adult acquired flatfoot deformity (AAFD) are used interchangeably, although both suggest quite different pathological processes.

To investigate key differences in selection criteria used for inclusion into research studies.

An electronic database search was performed from inception to June 2016. All primary research articles with clear inclusion/diagnostic criteria for PTTD or AAFD were included in the review. All criteria were extracted and synthesised into one aggregate list. Frequencies of recurring criteria were calculated and reported for each stage of the conditions.

Of the potentially eligible papers, 148 (65%) did not specify inclusion/selection criteria for PTTD or AAFD and were excluded. Eligibility criteria were reported 82 times in the 80 included papers, with 69 descriptions for PTTD and 13 for AAFD. After synthesis of criteria from all papers, there were 18 key signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms were considered to be those relating to tendon pathology and those relating to structural deformity. The total number of individual inclusion/diagnostic criteria ranged from 2 to 9. The majority of articles required signs of both tendon dysfunction and structural deformity (84% for AAFD and 81% for PTTD). Across both groups, the most frequently reported criteria were abduction of the forefoot (11.5% of total criteria used), the presence of a flexible deformity (10.2%) and difficulty performing a single leg heel raise (10.0%). This was largely the case for the PTTD articles, whereas the AAFD articles were more focused on postural issues such as forefoot abduction, medial arch collapse, and hindfoot valgus (each 16.7%).

As well as synthesising the available literature and providing reporting recommendations, this review has identified that many papers investigating PTTD/AAFD do not state condition-specific selection criteria and that this limits their clinical applicability. Key signs and symptoms of PTTD and AAFD appear similar, except in early PTTD where no structural deformity is present. We recommend that PTTD is the preferred terminology for the condition associated with signs of local tendon dysfunction with pain and/or swelling along the tendon and difficulty with inversion and/or single leg heel raise characterising stage I and difficulty with single leg heel raise and a flexible flatfoot deformity characterizing stage II PTTD. While AAFD may be useful as an umbrella term for acquired flatfoot deformities, the specific associated aetiology should be reported in studies to aid consolidation and implementation of research into practice.

Prospero ID: 42016046943.

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