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Rectus transfer in spastic diplegia

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Change of function of the rectus femoris through medial transfer of its distal tendon. This procedure transforms a hip flexor and knee extensor into a hip and knee flexor. Thus the muscle acts as a hip flexor during the terminal stance phase and swing phase and as a knee flexor during the swing phase. This permits the foot to clear the ground and to improve the spastic gait.


Functional sequelae of a simultaneous spasticity of knee flexors and extensors causing a stiff gait. Isolated spasticity of rectus muscle with continuous muscle activity during stance and swing phase, recurvatum of the knee during the stance phase, limited flexion (<15°) of the knee during the swing phase and lack of clearance of the foot.


Pattern of global flexor spasticity. Loss of power of hip flexors. Paresis of quadriceps.

Surgical Technique

Isolation and detachment of the distal tendon of the rectus femoris. The tendon can be transferred either medially or laterally. For a medial transfer the tendon is sutured to the gracilis tendon which is detached as proximal as possible. This permits to displace the direction of pull behind the center of rotation of the knee. For a lateral transfer the tendon is sutured to the iliotibial tract.


In 94.8% of patients (n=137; 274 limbs) followed for a mean of 21 months (7 to 39 months) the results were good to satisfactory using the score of Gage. The Duncan-Ely test was negative in these patients. The gait was markedly improved. Important complications did not occur.

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Correspondence to Wolfram Wenz.

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Wenz, W., Döderlein, L. Rectus transfer in spastic diplegia. Orthop Traumatol 7, 203–211 (1999).

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Key Words

  • Rectus femoris muscle
  • Tendon transfer
  • Spastic diplegia
  • Cerebral palsy