Ultrasound-diagnosed bone and joint destruction as a typical image in advanced Charcots arthropathy - case report

Aleksandra Konarzewska1, Ludomira Rzepecka-Wejs2,3, Anna Korzon-Burakowska4

Affiliation and address for correspondence
J Ultrason 2012; 12 (49): 226–232

The paper presents a case of Charcot foot in a patient with long standing type 2 diabetes and complicated by peripheral neuropathy. It was initially diagnosed by an ultrasound examination and subsequently confirmed by an X-ray and an magnetic resonance imaging. Diabetic neuropathy is nowadays the most frequent cause of Charcot arthropathy, although it can be also a result of other diseases of the nervous system. In the acute phase the patient usually presents with edema, redness and increased temperature of the foot, which can suggest many other diagnoses including bacterial infection, gout, venous thrombosis or trauma. Because of its non specific clinical presentation and unsufficient awareness of the specificity of the diabetic foot syndrome among health professionals and the patients the diagnosis of this process is in many cases delayed. In the acute phase appropriate treatment needs to be initiated (mainly off loading and immobilization of the foot in a total contact cast), otherwise a rapidly progressing destruction of the bones and joints will usually begin, leading to fractures, dislocations and a severe foot deformity. Increased awareness among doctors taking care of the diabetic patients and appropriate use of the imaging methods can definitely improve efficacy of the diagnostic process and help to optimize the treatment of Charcot arthropathy. The standard approach usually includes use of radiography, magnetic resonance imaging and scintigraphy. In some cases a sonographer may be the first one to notice typical signs of bony destruction in a patient with Charcot arthropathy and suggest immediate further imaging in order to confirm the diagnosis and to minimize the risk of mutilating complications.

ultrasonography, Charcot arthropathy, neuropathic arthropathy, diagnostic imaging, diabetic foot