Background: Pedal fat pad atrophy is associated with pain, decreased tissue thickness, and increased foot pressures. To date, no objective studies investigating the use of fat grafting to the forefoot have been performed. The authors hypothesize that pedal fat grafting can reduce pain, increase tissue thickness, and decrease pedal pressures. Methods: A prospective randomized study was performed to assess tissue thickness, pain, and foot pressures. Group 1 underwent fat grafting immediately with 1-year follow-up, and group 2 underwent conservative management for 1 year. Results: Thirteen patients (two men and 11 women) constituted group 1 and 12 patients (four men and eight women) constituted group 2. Ten patients in group 1 underwent bilateral injections with a mean volume of 4.8 cc per foot. Mean follow-up time was 11.1 ± 5.4 months for group 1 and 13.8 ± 4.2 months for group 2. At 1 year, group 1 demonstrated improved foot function (p = 0.022), pain (p = 0.022), and work/leisure activities (p = 0.021). Group 1 had no change in tissue thickness, whereas in group 2, the right third metatarsal tissue thickness decreased significantly (p = 0.036). Foot pressures in group 1 did not improve; however, group 2 had a significant increase in left foot pressure (p = 0.011). When comparing the groups at 1 year, group 2 had significantly higher foot pressures and forces than group 1 (p < 0.05). Conclusions: Pedal fat grafting significantly improves pain and disability outcomes, and prevents against worsening foot pressures. Future analysis will reveal whether fat grafting has lasting efficacy. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic, II.
ASJC Scopus subject areas