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Semin Musculoskelet Radiol. 2010 Sep;14(3):365-76. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1254525. Epub 2010 Jun 10.

Neuro-osteoarthropathy of the foot-radiologist: friend or foe?

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Charcot neuro-osteoarthropathy is a significant problem with a rapid devastating nature. If not recognized it may lead to progressive foot deformity, ulceration or osteomyelitis, or eventually to amputation. The diagnosis is challenging, and imaging plays a pivotal role. Rapid and accurate diagnosis and early intervention is important to prevent progressive and destructive Charcot deformity of the foot. The imaging workup of the warm swollen Charcot foot is presented. The advantages and disadvantages of different imaging modalities are discussed. This review provides the consulting radiologists with tools to cautiously differentiate Charcot's neuro-osteoarthropathy from osteomyelitis. It is crucial to look beyond radiological features and integrate the location of pathology and presence of ulcer in the reading process. Because imaging plays a pivotal role in arriving at the definitive diagnosis and adequate treatment, the radiologist "makes the difference"-can be a friend or a foe.

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