Ultrasound evaluation of plantar fasciitis.

Tsai WC, Chiu MF, Wang CL, Tang FT, Wong MK. Scand J Rheumatol 2000;29(4):255-9.

To investigate the sonographic features of plantar fasciitis (PF).

High-resolution ultrasound was used to measure the thickness and echogenicity of the proximal plantar fascia and associated heel pad thickness for 102 consecutive patients with PF (unilateral: 81, bilateral: 21) and 33 control subjects.

The mean thickness of the plantar fascia was greater on the symptomatic side for patients with bilateral and unilateral PF than on the asymptomatic side for patients with unilateral PF, and also control subjects (5.47+/-1.09, 5.61+/-1.19, 3.83+/-0.72, 3.19+/-0.43 mm, respectively, p<0.001). A substantial difference in thickness between the asymptomatic side of patients with unilateral PF and control subjects was also noted (p=0.001). The heel pad thickness was not show different between control subjects and patients with PF. The incidence of hypoechoic fascia was 68.3% (84/123). Other findings among the patients from our test group included intratendinous calcification (two cases), the presence of perifascial fluid (one case), atrophic heel pads (one case), and the partial rupture of plantar fascia (one case).

Increased thickness and hypoechoic plantar fascia are consistent sonographic findings in patients exhibiting PF. These objective measurements can provide sufficient information for the physician to confirm an initial diagnosis of PF and assess individual treatment regimens.