Sonographic and MRI evaluation of the plantar plate: A prospective study

Eur Radiol. 2006 Dec;16(12):2661-9. doi: 10.1007/s00330-006-0345-8. Epub 2006 Jul 4.


The purpose of this study was to establish the accuracy of ultrasound in the examination of the plantar plate by comparing it with MRI, or if available, surgical findings. The lesser metatarsophalangeal joint plantar plates of 40 symptomatic and 40 asymptomatic feet (160 asymptomatic and 160 symptomatic plantar plates) were examined with ultrasound and MRI. Patients treated with surgery were chosen on a clinical basis and provided surgical correlation for the imaging techniques. Symptomatic patients with metatatarsalgia and suspected metatarsophalangeal joint instability were referred by an orthopedic foot specialist; asymptomatic feet were obtained either through examination of the contralateral foot of the symptomatic patients or volunteers. Ultrasound detected 75/160 and 139/160 plantar plates torn in the asymptomatic and symptomatic groups, respectively. MRI detected 56/160 and 142/160 tears in the symptomatic and asymptomatic groups, respectively. The sensitivity of MRI and ultrasound with surgical correlation was calculated to be 87 and 96%, respectively, with poor specificity. Ultrasound correlates moderately with MRI in the evaluation of the plantar plate. Surgical correlations, although limited (n = 10), indicate ultrasound is superior to MRI with more accurate detection of tears.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Metatarsophalangeal Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Metatarsophalangeal Joint / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Ultrasonography / methods*