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Scan can effectively diagnose unclear foot pain

Tuesday 10th March 2015
A single scan is capable of diagnosing the cause of unknown foot pain, according to a new study. Image Credit: Thinkstock
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A new study, published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, could go some way to help podiatrists diagnose the cause of unknown foot pain.

The report describes how a single scan can determine the problem, and is better than other methods currently in use. The method should also boost patient care as it requires less radiation exposure.

Foot pain is a common problem faced by podiatrists but can be the sign of a wide range of issues, making it challenging to make a clear and accurate diagnosis immediately. There are a number of imaging techniques that can help examine the source of the foot pain, but no single scan can effectively diagnose a wide range of causes. 

Although PET is a highly sensitive tool, it does not have the accuracy needed to identify metabolically active benign bone disease, while MR imaging is capable of differentiating between soft tissue, which helps in specifying a diagnosis. 

The team found that combining PET/MR could offer an important tool for the sensitive diagnosis of foot pathologies.

To arrive at this conclusion, a team of researchers compared the quality and diagnostic performance of PET/MR to those of PET/CT in 22 patients who had not had a specific diagnosis after clinical examination and radiography. 

Using overall image quality as a guide, they found that PET/MR was significantly better than PET/CT, with an overall excellent image quality score of three points in all PET/MR datasets, while PET/CT achieved 2.3 points.

As a result, the team determined that PET/MR imaging technique provides better diagnostic accuracy with more certainty, than the current PET/CT method, according to the study.

Corresponding author of the study Isabel Rauscher said the study showed that PET/MR was able to deliver more diagnostic information at a higher diagnostic certainty compared to PET/CT in patients who had no clear cause of their foot pain.

She added that, beside information on bone metabolism, it provides additional diagnostic relevant findings from soft-tissue and bone marrow pathology. Also, as it involves no radiation and the scan allows a longer PET acquisition time, the patient is at a lower risk.

Written by Megan Smith

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