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The objective of the present study was to assess the utility of magnetic resonance imaging in evaluating injury to the plantar plate and to determine whether conventional low-field magnetic resonance imaging is a valid tool for diagnostic evaluation. Magnetic resonance imaging scans of 45 feet in 41 patients (38 females and 3 males, with an average age of 52.1 years) were prospectively evaluated to assess the integrity of the plantar plate ligament and compared with a reference standard of intraoperative findings. The concordance of tear severity observed on magnetic resonance imaging with the intraoperative findings was also assessed using a newly proposed grading scheme for plantar plate injuries. Intraoperatively, 41 plantar plate tears and 4 intact ligaments were found. The accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value was 96%, 95%, 100%, 100%, and 67%, respectively. The clinical diagnosis of plantar plate injury was also highly accurate in our study population (41/45, 91%). Finally, we observed moderate concordance between the magnetic resonance imaging grade and surgical grade of plantar plate tear (28/45, 62%), with greater concordance occurring at higher grades. Our results have demonstrated that magnetic resonance imaging is an accurate and valid test for the diagnosing injuries of the plantar plate ligament. Given the high accuracy of the clinical findings, magnetic resonance imaging is most useful when the decision to operate will be sufficiently influenced by either a normal magnetic resonance imaging appearance of the plantar plate or the presence of a high-grade tear.
Background: Instability of the lesser metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints has been widely reported and plantar plate insufficiency is a key part of this pathologic process. The diagnosis is made clinically but can be aided by imaging studies, particularly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); however, the sensitivity and accuracy of this method compared to direct visualization of these lesions has not yet been established, nor has interobserver accuracy of MRI been assessed for evaluation of plantar plate pathology. In this study, our goals were to identify the accuracy of the MRI in describing plantar plate tears when compared to direct arthroscopic visualization using an anatomic grading system and to test the influence of an anatomic grading system in the accuracy of the MRI readings.
Methods: We evaluated the clinical exam, MRI scans, and arthroscopic findings of 35 patients with lesser MTP instability.
Results: Using an anatomic grading system, a distinct improvement in the radiological evaluation and interpretation occurred. Knowledge of the pattern of plantar plate tears by a radiologist enabled them to locate and describe the type of tears of the plantar plate on the MRI. The amount of training and the experience of the radiologist were also important factors in our study. The senior radiologists had much better levels of accuracy (Group A, 77.0%; Group B, 88.5%) than less experienced radiologists.
Conclusion: Prior knowledge of the pathophysiology and morphological types of lesions of the plantar plates was helpful for accurate identification and description of the tears by the radiologist.
Musculoskeletal Ultrasound for Preoperative Imaging of the Plantar Plate
A Prospective Analysis
Erin E. Klein, DPM, MS; Lowell Weil Jr, DPM, MBA; Lowell Scott Weil Sr, DPM; Jessica Knight, DPM Foot Ankle Spec April 4, 2013
The purpose of this study was to prospectively compare preoperative findings on musculoskeletal ultrasound evaluation to observed intraoperative findings for patients undergoing surgical correction of plantar plate tears. Fifty consecutive patients with forefoot pain and a suspected unilateral plantar plate tear at the second metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint were identified. The same examiner performed a 2-plane (longitudinal and transverse) musculoskeletal ultrasound on the painful second MTP joint. The contralateral second MTP joint was used for comparison. Longitudinal ultrasound images were graded as “torn” or “intact.” Transverse ultrasound images were used to localize the suspected pathology. Results of the ultrasound were compared with observed intraoperative pathology. Forty-five plantar plate tears were identified intraoperatively. Longitudinal ultrasound images correctly identified 40 plantar plate tears. The longitudinal ultrasound had a sensitivity of 91.1%, a specificity of 25%, a positive predictive value of 91.1%, and a negative predictive value of 25%. Transverse ultrasound images identified 36 plantar plate tears correctly localizing only 19 tears. Musculoskeletal ultrasound has been widely used to identify and localize pathology in many soft tissue structures. Whereas the longitudinal ultrasound images were useful in identifying plantar plate tears, the same cannot be said about the ability to localize the tear on the transverse ultrasound images. Therefore, ultrasound may not be as good an imaging modality as magnetic resonance imaging for identification and localization of plantar plate pathology.