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Ultrasound-guided Plantar Fascia Release Technique

A Retrospective Study of 46 Feet

Praveen K. Vohra Private practice, Plainfield, IL.

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Christopher J. Japour Department of Surgery, Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Northport, NY.

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Background: Ultrasound-guided plantar fascia release offers the surgeon clear visualization of anatomy at the surgical site. This technique uses small arthroscopic dissecting instruments through a 0.5-cm incision, allowing the surgeon to avoid the larger and more tissue-disruptive incision that is traditionally used for plantar heel spur resection and plantar fascia releases.

Methods: Forty-one patients (46 feet) were selected for the study. The mean patient age was 47 years. Twenty-nine were considered obese with a body mass index greater than 30 kg/m2. Patients were functionally and subjectively evaluated 4 weeks after surgery using the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society Ankle and Hindfoot Rating Scale.

Results: Results from the study show a significant improvement (P = .05 confidence level) 4 weeks postoperatively for the 41 patients (46 feet), compared to their preoperative condition. The mean pretest score was 33.6 (range 10–52); this score improved to 88.0 (range 50–100), 4 weeks postoperatively. There were no postoperative infections or complications.

Conclusions: The ultrasound-guided plantar fascia release technique is a practical surgical procedure for the relief of chronic plantar fascia pain because the surgeon is able to clearly visualize the plantar fascia by ultrasound. In addition, there is minimal disruption to surrounding tissue because small instruments are passed through a small 0.5-cm incision. The traditional open method of heel spur surgery, in contrast, uses a larger skin incision of 3 to 5 cm, followed by larger instruments to dissect to the plantar fascia. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 99(3): 183–190, 2009)

Corresponding author: Christopher J. Japour, DPM, MS, Department of Surgery, Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 79 Middleville Rd, Northport, NY 11738. (E-mail: christopher.japour@va.gov)