Stress fractures in the lower extremity. The importance of increasing awareness amongst radiologists

Ferco H. Berger, Milko C. de Jonge, Mario Maas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Stress fractures are fatigue injuries of bone usually caused by changes in training regimen in the population of military recruits and both professional and recreational athletes. Raised levels of sporting activity in today's population and refined imaging technologies have caused a rise in reported incidence of stress fractures in the past decades, now making up more than 10% of cases in a typical sports medicine practice. Background information (including etiology, epidemiology, clinical presentation and treatment and prevention) as well as state of the art imaging of stress fractures will be discussed to increase awareness amongst radiologists, providing the tools to play an important role in diagnosis and prognosis of stress fractures. Specific fracture sites in the lower extremity will be addressed, covering the far majority of stress fracture incidence. Proper communication between treating physician, physical therapist and radiologist is needed to obtain a high index of suspicion for this easily overlooked entity. Radiographs are not reliable for detection of stress fractures and radiologists should not falsely be comforted by them, which could result in delayed diagnosis and possibly permanent consequences for the patient. Although radiographs are mandatory to rule out differentials, they should be followed through when negative, preferably by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), as this technique has proven to be superior to bone scintigraphy. CT can be beneficial in a limited number of patients, but should not be used routinely
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-26
JournalEuropean journal of radiology
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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