Diagnostic significance of radiologic measurements in posterior heel pain

R Singh, R Rohilla, R C Siwach, N K Magu, S S Sangwan, A Sharma
Foot 2008, 18 (2): 91-8

BACKGROUND: Posterior heel pain is a common complaint in both athlete and non-athlete. For diagnosis of etiology certain angles, lines and soft tissue parameters have been developed in the literature to describe the calcaneal prominence and its relationship to Achilles tendon and its bursae.

OBJECTIVES: A prospective study was undertaken to evaluate the diagnostic values of these angles, lines and soft tissue parameters in posterior heel pain.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Seventy-one painful heels in 58 patients (30 males and 28 females, mean+/-S.D. age; 41.4+/-10.82 years) were clinically and radiologically examined. This was compared with 50 heels in 25 control subjects. A lateral weight bearing film of the foot was taken to calculate different angles, lines and soft tissue parameters mentioned in the literature.

RESULTS: There were 45 Pavlov's parallel pitch line positives and using test of Denis and Huber-Levernieux in only one posterior superior crest extended beyond vertical tangential. There was only one heel with Fowler & Philip angle >75 degrees. There were 10 heels with Steffensen & Evensen angle >65, 5 heels with total angle >90 degrees and 52 heels with Chauveaux-Liet angle >12 degrees. There were 73% true positive for Chauveaux-Liet angle and 63% true positive for parallel pitch line. Among soft tissue parameters ill defined retrocalcaneal recess was present in 61 symptomatic heels, plantar spur in 42 heels, posterior calcaneal step in 33 heels, Achilles tendon calcification in 29 heels, superficial tendo-Achilles bursitis in 58 heels, posterior calcaneal spur in 31 heels and antero posterior diameter of tendo-Achilles more than 9 mm in 68 symptomatic heels.

CONCLUSION: Parallel pitch lines, Chauveaux-Liet angle, ill-defined retrocalcaneal recess, superficial tendo-Achilles bursa and anteroposterior diameter of Achilles tendon more than 9 mm about 2 cm above insertion are reliable objective diagnostic indicators of bony deformity of calcaneus and soft tissue affection in patients with posterior heel pain. It is the combination of these bony and soft tissue parameters, which enhance the diagnostic certitude.

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