Comparing Magnetic Resonance Imaging and High-Resolution Dynamic Ultrasonography for Diagnosis of Plantar Plate Pathology: A Case Series

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Abstract

Plantar plate pathology has gained noticeable attention in recent years as an etiology of lesser metatarsophalangeal joint pain. The heightened clinical awareness has led to the need for more effective diagnostic imaging accuracy. Numerous reports have established the accuracy of both magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasonography for the diagnosis of plantar plate pathology. However, no conclusions have been made regarding which is the superior imaging modality. The present study reports a case series directly comparing high-resolution dynamic ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging. A multicenter retrospective comparison of magnetic resonance imaging versus high-resolution dynamic ultrasonography to evaluate plantar plate pathology with surgical confirmation was conducted. The sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values for magnetic resonance imaging were 60%, 100%, 100%, and 33%, respectively. The overall diagnostic accuracy compared with the intraoperative findings was 66%. The sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values for high-resolution dynamic ultrasound imaging were 100%, 100%, 100%, and 100%, respectively. The overall diagnostic accuracy compared with the intraoperative findings was 100%. The p value using Fisher's exact test for magnetic resonance imaging and high-resolution dynamic ultrasonography was p = .45, a difference that was not statistically significant. High-resolution dynamic ultrasonography had greater accuracy than magnetic resonance imaging in diagnosing lesser metatarsophalangeal joint plantar plate pathology, although the difference was not statistically significant. The present case series suggests that high-resolution dynamic ultrasonography can be considered an equally accurate imaging modality for plantar plate pathology at a potential cost savings compared with magnetic resonance imaging. Therefore, high-resolution dynamic ultrasonography warrants further investigation in a prospective study.

Level of Clinical Evidence: 4

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