Diagnosis of Charcot Foot

Diagnosis of Charcot foot is based on medical history (i.e., history of diabetes), symptoms, imaging tests (e.g., x-rays, MRI), and laboratory tests.

X-rays are used to detect joint effusions, large osteophytes, fractures, bone fragments, and joint misalignment and/or dislocation. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) can be used to help differentiate between Charcot foot and osteomyelitis (bone infection). Joint margins, which are clearly defined upon MRI scan in Charcot foot, appear blurred in osteomyelitis.

Laboratory tests include drawing fluid from the joint (arthrocentesis) to detect bone and cartilage fragments and blood, which may be present in some cases of Charcot foot.

Publication Review By: Hai-En Peng, D.P.M.

Published: 31 Dec 1999

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015