Charcot Arthropathy - Radiologic Findings

Radiologic Findings

First, it is important to recognize that two types of abnormality may be detected. One is termed atrophic, in which there is osteolysis of the distal metatarsals in the forefoot. The more common form of destruction is hypertrophic joint disease, characterized by acute peri-articular fracture and joint dislocation. According to Yochum and Rowe, the "6 D's" of hypertrophy are:

  1. Distended joint
  2. Density increase
  3. Debris production
  4. Dislocation
  5. Disorganization
  6. Destruction

The natural history of the joint destruction process has a classification scheme of its own, offered by Eichenholtz decades ago:

Stage 0: Clinically, there is joint edema, but radiographs are negative. Note that a bone scan may be positive before a radiograph is, making it a sensitive but not very specific modality.

Stage 1: Osseous fragmentation with joint dislocation seen on radiograph ("acute Charcot").

Stage 2: Decreased local edema, with coalescence of fragments and absorption of fine bone debris

Stage 3: No local edema, with consolidation and remodeling (albeit deformed) of fracture fragments. The foot is now stable.

Destroyed Tarsometatarsal joints in the medial left foot, with fracture and dislocation of fragments; these are classic findings. Also note loss of the foot arch and acquired flat foot (pes planus) deformity.

Atrophic Features:

  1. "Licked candy stick" appearance, commonly seen at the distal aspect of the metatarsals
  2. Diabetic osteolysis
  3. Bone resorption

Read more about this topic:  Charcot Arthropathy

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