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Foot complications in diabetics often lead to amputation. Ulceration is the most common complication in the diabetic forefoot and underlies more than 90% of cases of pedal osteomyelitis. The diagnosis of osteomyelitis is, nevertheless, difficult, and imaging is an important part of the work-up. Plain radiographs, although useful for anatomical information, are neither sensitive nor specific. Three-phase bone scintigraphy is sensitive but not specific. Labeled leucocyte scintigraphy and MRI are both useful and are complementary to one another. Labeled leucocyte scintigraphy is valuable for diagnosis as well as follow-up of pedal osteomyelitis. MRI offers exquisite anatomical detail, which is invaluable for guiding surgical management. The principal complication in the mid and hind foot is the neuropathic or Charcot joint. Although infection of the neuropathic joint is infrequent, its diagnosis is difficult. The extensive bony changes that accompany this disorder severely diminish the value of radiography and bone scintigraphy. It is not always possible to distinguish the marrow oedema of neuropathy from that of osteomyelitis and the role of MRI in the evaluation of this entity is still uncertain. Uptake of labeled leucocytes in the absence of infection may occur and is owing, at least in part, to haematopoietically active marrow. Combined leucocyte/marrow scintigraphy holds considerable promise for identifying the infected Charcot joint.
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Document Type: Abstract

Affiliations: British Journal of Radiology 73: 443–450, 2000. Reprinted with permission from The British Institute of Radiology.

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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