Objective: To clarify morphologic features associated with the clinical outcome of extracorporeal shock wave application (ESWA) in chronic plantar fasciitis.
Methods: In this prospective study 43 patients (48 heels) with chronic courses of plantar fasciitis were clinically examined before and after repetitive low energy ESWA. Standard radiographs of the affected heels were obtained before ESWA to document the existence of a calcaneal heel spur. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed before ESWA to evaluate abnormalities of the plantar fascia, the surrounding soft tissue structures, and bone marrow edema of the calcaneus.
Results: After ESWA (mean followup 19.3 mo), clinical evaluation of all 48 heels revealed a statistically significant decrease in the mean visual analog scale score from 74.5 to 25.4. Using the Roles and Maudsley score (RM), an established scoring system for categorizing results of treatment following ESWA for patients with plantar fasciitis, patients could be divided into 2 groups, i.e., satisfactory clinical outcome of ESWA (grades 1 and 2 by RM scale; n = 36 heels) and unsatisfactory outcome (grades 3 and 4 by RM scale; n = 12 heels). While thickness of plantar aponeurosis, soft tissue signal intensity changes, and soft tissue contrast medium uptake did not correlate with clinical outcome, the presence of a calcaneal bone marrow edema was highly predictive for satisfactory clinical outcome (positive predictive value 0.94, sensitivity 0.89, specificity 0.8).
Conclusion: This study indicates that in patients with chronic plantar fasciitis, the presence of calcaneal bone marrow edema on pretherapeutic MRI is a good predictive variable for a satisfactory clinical outcome of ESWA.