Club foot is a common condition that's present in about 1 out of every 1000 babies. In 50% of cases, club foot is bilateral, which means both feet are affected. Patients with the condition may have a foot that turns inward, outward, or upward. Because of the highly visible symptoms of this condition, diagnosis is a fairly easy and straightforward process.
Due to the fact that club foot is a physical deformity, most infants are diagnosed before birth with an ultrasound. An ultrasound scan is done on pregnant women to examine the developing fetus. Studies suggest that with the use of an ultrasound, 10% of cases are diagnosed as early as 13 weeks. As the baby grows and shows up clearer on a scan, 80% of cases are discovered at 24 weeks. However, there is a 20% false positive rate when using an ultrasound diagnosis.
In cases not detected using an ultrasound, visible confirmation of club foot is possible shortly after the baby is born. However, the doctor may want to confirm a diagnosis by ordering an X-ray, which is a diagnostic test that takes internal images of the bones. Because a baby’s bones are not yet ossified, which means filled in with bony substance, their foot and ankle bones sometimes do not show up well on an X-ray. Therefore, this diagnostic test is not always helpful.
If a positive diagnosis is made, treatment for babies will begin right away with a specialist.