What’s the best test for underlying osteomyelitis in patients with diabetic foot ulcers?
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A: What’s the best test for underlying osteomyelitis in patients with diabetic foot ulcers? A: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has a higher sensitivity and specificity (90% and 79%) than plain radiography (54% and 68%) for diagnosing diabetic foot osteomyelitis. MRI performs somewhat better than any of several common tests—probe to bone (PTB), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) >70 mm/ hr, C-reactive protein (CRP) >14 mg/L, procalcitonin >0.3 ng/mL, and ulcer size >2 cm2—although PTB has the highest specificity of any test and is commonly used together with MRI. No studies have directly compared MRI with a combination of these tests, which may assist in diagnosis (strength of recommendation [SOR]: B, meta-analysis of cohort trials and individual cohort and case control trial). Experts recommend obtaining plain films when considering diabetic foot ulcers to evaluate for bony abnormalities, soft tissue gas, and foreign body; MRI should be considered in most situations when infection is suspected (SOR: B, evidence-based guidelines).
Journal of Family Practice, 64(5) 2015: 309-310, 321.