Mönckeberg's Medial Calcific Sclerosis Makes Traditional Arterial Doppler's Unreliable in High-Risk Patients with Diabetes

Int J Low Extrem Wounds. 2023 Jul 31:15347346231191588. doi: 10.1177/15347346231191588. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To assess Mönckeberg's medial calcific sclerosis (MMCS) severity in patients with a diabetic foot infection.

Methods: This was an analysis of 2 randomized clinical trials in which we evaluated the treatment of 233 patients admitted to the hospital for moderate and severe foot infections. Arterial calcification was defined as visible radiopaque arteries on foot and ankle radiographs, recorded as the most distal visible artery involved (toes, metatarsals, and ankle/hindfoot).

Results: Most subjects (57.1%, n = 133) had MMCS, with extension to toes in 79 (59.4%), to metatarsals in 32 (24.1%), and to ankle/hindfoot in 22 patients (16.5%). In 7 patients (5.2%) MMCS was solely seen in dorsalis pedis (DP) artery, in 13 patients (9.8%) in posterior tibialis (PT) artery, and in 113 patients (85.0%) MMCS was seen in both arteries. Only 29.2% (n = 68) of DP arteries and 34.8% (n = 81) of PT arteries were not compressible by Doppler. DP and PT arteries were not compressible more often in MMCS (DP 34.3% vs 20.4%, P = .02 and PT 43.1% vs 21.4%, P < .01), toe-brachial indices of ≥0.7 were significantly more common in people without MMCS (46.0% vs 67.4%, P < .01). In contrast, there were no differences in skin perfusion pressure measurements (>50 mmHg; 67.7% vs 68.0%, P = .96), waveforms (biphasic/triphasic 83.5% vs 77.0%, P = .22), and pulse volume recording (9.6 ± 3.3 vs 13.7 ± 36.0) between patients with and without MMCS.

Conclusion: MMCS is common in patients with diabetic foot infections. MMCS is associated with noncompressible arterial Doppler studies and likely interferes with the accuracy of arterial Doppler studies.

Keywords: Mönckeberg's sclerosis; ankle-brachial index; arterial Doppler; diabetic foot; noncompressible arteries.