For normal anatomy and scanning protocol


Plantar Fascia

Plantar Fascitis

Ultrasound comparing plantar fascitis to normal
 Ultrasound of plantar fascitis
A thickened plantar fascia origin (red arrows) compared to a normal plantar fascia on the right.
The red arrows indicate the margins of the thickened plantar fascia. Note the convex shape and hypoechoic change.


Plantar Fascial Tear

Ultrasound of a plantar fascia tear
 Power doppler showing inlammation around plantar fascia tear.

A large partial tear of the plantar fascia. There is a surroinding haematoma and inflammation (red).

The irregular outine and disrupted fibres are  visible (green)

Increased vascularity of the plantar fascia tear and surrounding tissues.


Plantar Fibromatosis

  • Plantar fibromatoses are fusiform nodular thickenings of the plantar fascia in the mid foot.
  • Patients will usually present with one or more palpable lumps or thickenings in the arch of their foot.
  • Not usually painful but may be symptomatic due to physical discomfort.
 Scan plane for plantar fibromatosis  Ultrasound of Plantar fibromatosis
Scan plane for plantar fibromatosis A small nodule in the superficial surface of the plantar fascia.


A larger fibromatosis nodule
 Subtle plantar fibromatosis nodule.
The fusiform hypoechoic nodule (purple) with typical disruption to the uniform fibrillar achitecture of the Plantar fascia (yellow).

Always scan right  along the plantar fascia. There are usually more nodules than are palbable.

(Note the mirror image artefact deep to the nodule)


 Panoramic view of plantar fibromatosis
A panoramic image (or 'extended field of view') of Plantar fibromatosis.



Plantar Wart (Verucca Plantaris)

  • Can occur anywhere on the sole of the foot or toes.
  • Is the human pappiloma virus

Ultrasound of a plantar wart

Typical appearance of a plantar wart.

Rounded deep bulging of the cutaneous layers with posterior enhancement and rich deep vascularity.



Bones and Joints

Assess the extensor tendons dynamically for pathology. Check the underlying joints (with minimal probe pressure) for effusions.


 Scan plane for ultrasound of the forefoot  Effusion of the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint
View each joint and extensor tendon. Insert caption here


Degenerative arthritis of the 3rd tarso-metatarsal joint

Tarsal joint effusions

Degenerative arthritis of the 3rd tarso-metatarsal joint.

The markedly increased vascularity using power doppler indicates acute inflammation.

On power doppler, marked hyperaemia is isolated to the Navicular-Cuneiform joint indicating focal, acute inflammation. The Talo-navicular joint is shows no increased vascularity.


Ultrasound of gouty tophi

Ultrasound of gout
The mixed echogenic appearance of  calcific tophus of gout arising out of the 1st MTPJ.

The gout extends out over the plantar aspect of the Flexor Hallucis Longus tendon.

Differential diagnosis is Calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease (CPDD)


Xray of focal foot arthritis

Synovial cysts from tarsal arthritis
Xray showing the osteophytic lipping of the navicular-cuneiform joint.
Ultrasound shows the bony irregularity and associated synovial cysts and thickening.


Morton's Neuroma

To differentiate a neuroma from a bursa:
A Mortons neuroma will be non compressible and should have subtle internal vascularity. Utilise the Mulder's manouvre to correlate the click and symptoms with the pathology found.

 Ultrasound of a mortons neuroma

A large mortons neuroma.
The non compressible large Neuroma with internal vascularity visible on color doppler.
Mortons neuroma


Inter-Metatarsal Bursa

  • A common cause of forefoot neuralgia.
  • A thin bursa located between each metattarsal head.
 Scan plane for metatarsal bursa ultrasound  Ultrasound of a metatarsal bursa
The same scan plane and technique is employed to examine for Mortons neuromas or metatarsal bursae because they are differential diagnoses for each other. The bulging bursa seen from the plantar aspect with dorsal counter-pressure applied. Be careful not to apply too much transducer pressure which will prevent visualisation of the bursa.


Using a modified 'Mulder's manouver, the thickened intermetatarsal bursa can be seen extruding out the plantar aspect of the foot. This elicits a palpable click and reproduces the patient's symptoms. This is not a Morton's neuroma but can produce similar symptoms.


 Intermetatarsal bursa LS  Thickened bursa
In longitudinal, the bursa can be seen to protrude out the plantar aspect between the metatarsal heads
A large, bulging intermetatarsal bursa, clinically mimicking a Morton's neuroma.


 A loculated metatarsal bursa
Loculated bursal fluid with bursal thickening.

The bursa being compressed.

The probe is on the plantar aspect and counter-pressure applied with a finger in the dorsal inter-metatarsal space.


 Ultrasound of interstitial buritis  

'Interstitial Bursa' under the 1st metatarso-phalangeal joint.

Similar to the olecranon bursa in the elbow, usually it will be only mildy tender but presents as an inconvenient swelling.

It Is important to clinically exclude infection or gout.

Adventitial Bursitis

Superficial swelling under the foot.



Plantar Plates

The plantar plates are the fibrocartilage labrum arising from the base of the proximal phalanx, plantar aspect.

 Ultrasound scan plane to assess the Plantar plates

Ultrasound of a normal plantar plate.
Scan plane to assess the plantar plate. Move sideways to view each metatarso-phalangeal joint.
A normal plantar plate (green) underlying the flexor digitorum tendon.


 Ultrasound showing calcification in the 2nd plantar plate.  Degenerative change in a plantar plate
Calcification along the plantar surface of the 2nd plantar plate.
Hypoechic degenerative change in the 3rd plantar plate.


 A degenerative plantar plate with a hammer toe

Ultrasound of a joint effusion elevating the plantar plate.
 Degenerative plantar plate Ultrasound of a joint effusion elevating the plantar plate. 

Foreign Bodies

  • Ultrasound is very effective at identifying foreign bodies.
  • It is important to note the direction of travel, depth from the skin and relationship to other anatomy (vascular etc)
 Ultrasound of a foreign body in the foot
A date-palm thorn in the foot.
A video clip showing the highly mobile thorn that has speared the anterior tibio-fibula ligament.



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