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Fulkerson Osteotomy Successfully Addresses Most Common Cause of Pediatric Knee Pain

In 1983, the Fulkerson osteotomy was created to surgically address the most common cause of knee pain in active people of all ages – patellofemoral (kneecap) instability. As of 2020, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville’s T. Whitney Gibson, D.O., has successfully completed over 50 of these life-improving operations, applying his pediatric orthopaedic expertise to the youngest patients who are able to benefit from the procedure.

“A child’s bones must be finished growing before they are a candidate for the Fulkerson osteotomy,” explained Dr. Gibson. “After that milestone and based on a careful measurement of the knee angles, it may be corrected using this technique."

This condition is more common among girls, Dr. Gibson noted, due to the female body’s wider pelvis. This results in a higher potential for strain on the knee cap. For boys and girls, the growth plate of the large leg bone must be fully closed in order to perform the Fulkerson osteotomy. 

“One thing that sets the Greenville Shriners Hospital apart is a pre-operative evaluation in our motion analysis center,” said Dr. Gibson. “We are able to study the gait of each individual patient, which offers incredibly insightful information to determine if the Fulkerson method is the best approach for that specific child.”

Rehabilitation, available under the same roof as outpatient and surgical appointments, is part of the hospital’s multidisciplinary approach to care, and has demonstrated excellent outcomes after surgery. Wherever you choose to receive them, therapy services are an essential part of the plan of care. Physical therapy begins before and resumes soon after the operation, and continues for eight weeks to three months.  

Most patients are able to enjoy all activities again six to eight months following the Fulkerson osteotomy operation.

T. Whitney Gibson, D.O.

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