Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction: secondary MR signs

Foot Ankle Int. 1997 Oct;18(10):658-63. doi: 10.1177/107110079701801011.


We evaluated four potential secondary magnetic resonance imaging signs to aid in clinical diagnosis of posterior tibial tendon (PTT) tears. Seventy-one ankles (25 PTT tears and 46 controls) were evaluated for the following secondary signs: (1) PTT sheath fluid, (2) a distal tibial spur located just anterior to the PTT, (3) unroofing of the talus, and (4) "bone bruise"--like medullary lesions. Two musculoskeletal radiologists rated their confidence using a scale and were compared for level of agreement. The presence of PTT sheath fluid had modest specificity and fair to moderate sensitivity. Tibial spurring and unroofing of the talus had excellent specificity and fair sensitivity. Bone bruise-like lesions were commonly seen in cases and controls. Examination of divergence of opinion between the two radiologists revealed pitfalls in interpretation of PTT sheath fluid and bone bruise-like lesions, which were commonly the result of adjacent vessels and inhomogeneous fat saturation, respectively. We conclude that secondary signs of PTT tears with high specificities include unroofing of the talus, tibial spurring, and PTT sheath fluid.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rupture
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tendon Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Tendons / pathology*