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The heels of 23 patients who were diagnosed with unilateral/bilateral plantar fasciitis were evaluated via ultrasonography and compared with their asymptomatic feet and a control group of 23 people. Plantar fascial thickness, echogenity, and heel pad thickness were evaluated, and the results were statistically analyzed. For symptomatic feet, increased thickness of the fascia and reduced echogenity were constant ultrasonographic findings (mean, 4.79 mm for symptomatic feet; 2.17 mm for control group, P < .05). No significant difference was found between heel pads of the diseased and healthy feet (mean, 12.96 mm for symptomatic feet; 13.10 mm for control group; P > .05). Ultrasonography seems to be a valuable, noninvasive diagnostic tool for the evaluation of plantar fasciitis.
Re: Ultrasonographic evaluation in plantar fasciitis.
Anatomical features of plantar aponeurosis: cadaveric study using ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging.
Moraes do Carmo CC, Fonseca de Almeida Melão LI, Valle de Lemos Weber MF, Trudell D, Resnick D. Skeletal Radiol. 2008 Jun 25. [Epub ahead of print]
OBJECTIVE: Abnormalities of the plantar aponeurosis are commonly encountered in patients with subcalcaneal heel pain. Understanding normal anatomy is required to accurately diagnose some disorders of the foot. The purpose of our study was to describe the normal anatomy of the plantar aponeurosis, using ultrasonography and MRI with close anatomic correlation in cadavers.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: After MRI and ultrasonography of 10 cadaveric foot specimens, the thickness of the central and lateral portions of the plantar aponeurosis displayed by imaging studies was measured by three radiologists. One specimen was sectioned in the transverse plane, one in the coronal plane, one in the sagittal plane, and two in a sagittal oblique plane. Normal anatomy was identified and similar measurements of the plantar aponeurosis were also made. An average value was determined and a statistical analysis was accomplished.
RESULTS: The calcaneal insertions of the plantar aponeurosis were better visualized than its distal portions with both MRI and ultrasonography. The measurements of the plantar aponeurosis made by three different radiologists were different, but without statistical significance. The average measurements for the central and lateral portions of the plantar aponeurosis with both imaging methods were different from each other because of differences in the morphology of these structures. The values obtained with ultrasonography and MRI, were also different from each other for both the central and lateral portions of the plantar aponeurosis, but with no statistical significance.
CONCLUSIONS: We have described the detailed anatomy of the plantar aponeurosis with emphasis on the more distal structures that can be visualized with MRI. There was no statistically significant difference between the accuracy of ultrasonography and MRI regarding the measurements of the thickness of the central and lateral portions of the plantar aponeurosis. Knowledge of the normal anatomy of these structures enables the radiologist to identify early alterations, providing timely diagnosis and treatment
Re: Ultrasonographic evaluation in plantar fasciitis.
One little examination tip I learnt; if the plantar fascia margin is ambiguous simply apply a fairly large compressive force with the probe to compress the plantar fibro-fatty pad to carefully vizualise the less compliant superficial margins of plantar fascia prior to deciding the boundary.
Opposite to this; when examining with power doppler for evidence of inflamatory neovascularisation, ensure virtually no compression from probe and turn doppler gain so that flow signal is just below level causing "flashing" on plantar calcaneal area cortex.
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The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) on plantar fasciitis documented by the ultrasonographic appearance of the aponeurosis and by patients' pain scores. Thirty individuals with diagnosis of unilateral plantar fasciitis were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, but 25 participants completed the therapeutic protocol. The contralateral asymptomatic fascia was used as control. After enrolment, symptomatic individuals were randomly assigned to receive LLLT, or identical placebo, for 6 weeks. Ultrasonography was performed at baseline and after completion of therapy. The subjective subcalcaneal pain was recorded at baseline and after treatment on a visual analogue scale (VAS). After LLLT, plantar fascia thickness in both groups showed significant change over the experimental period and there was a difference (before treatment and after treatment) in plantar fascia thickness between the two groups. However, plantar fascia thickness was insignificant (mean 3.627 +/- 0.977 mm) when compared with that in the placebo group (mean 4.380 +/- 1.0042 mm). Pain estimation on the visual analogue scale had improved significantly in all test situations (after night rest, daily activities) after LLLT when compared with that of the placebo group. (P = 0.006 and P = 0.01, respectively). Additionally, when the difference in pain scores was compared between the two groups, the change was statistically significant (after night rest P = 0.000; daily activities P = 0.001). In summary, while ultrasound imaging is able to depict the morphologic changes related to plantar fasciitis, 904 nm gallium-arsenide (GaAs) infrared laser may contribute to healing and pain reduction in plantar fasciitis.