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)
The authors measured the thickness of the medial, central, and lateral bands of the plantar fascia using ultrasonographic techniques in 109 symptomatic patients with 211 painful heels. Plantar fasciitis was diagnosed by the presence of plantar heel pain and tenderness of the plantar fascia on palpation and was correlated with plantar fascia thickness. All of the symptomatic feet had medial band tenderness, with an average thickness of 5.9 mm, 68% had central band tenderness, with an average thickness of 5.3 mm, and 26% had lateral band tenderness, with an average thickness of 4.4 mm. The average thickness of all symptomatic bands was 5.35 mm, which was significantly greater than that for all asymptomatic bands, which was 2.70 mm. There were also significant differences in the thickness of the three plantar fascia bands in symptomatic patients. A plantar fascia index was established consisting of the ratio of the mean thickness of symptomatic medial, central, and lateral plantar fascia bands to that of asymptomatic bands; for this study, the index value is 1.98 (5.35/2.70 mm). (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 92(8): 444-449, 2002)