Morton's metatarsalgia: sonographic findings and correlated histopathology

J W Read, J B Noakes, D Kerr, K J Crichton, H K Slater, F Bonar
Foot & Ankle International 1999, 20 (3): 153-61
The results of 79 high resolution ultrasound examinations of the forefoot that were performed for suspected Morton's metatarsalgia were retrospectively assessed. Scans were only obtained if the pain was poorly localized or if there were atypical features that made the clinical diagnosis uncertain. Ultrasound detected 92 hypoechoic intermetatarsal web space masses in 63 patients. Surgery was performed on 23 web spaces in 22 patients where the response to nonsurgical management had been poor. The surgical specimens were retrieved and reviewed by a pathologist in 21 cases. The histopathology in 20 of 21 operated cases was that of Morton's neuroma; however, prominent mucoid degeneration was also found to involve the adjacent loose fibroadipose tissues in 19 of 20 neuroma specimens. Ultrasound was sensitive in the detection of web space abnormality (sensitivity, 0.95), but could not clearly separate Morton's neuroma from associated mass-like mucoid degeneration in the adjacent loose connective tissues. The implications of these observations for both diagnosis and treatment are discussed.

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