Application of ultrasound in the assessment of plantar fascia in patients with plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis (PFS) is one of the most frequently occuring causes of heel pain, estimated to affect 10% of the general population at some point during their lifetime. Ultrasound (US) imaging technique is increasingly being used to assess plantar fascia (PF) thickness, monitor the effect of different interventions and guide therapeutic interventions in patients with PFS. The objective of the this study was to systematically review previously published studies dealing with the application of US in the assessment of PF in patients with PFS. A literature search was performed for the period 2000-2012 using the Science Direct, Scopus, PubMed, CINAHL, Medline, Embase and Springer databases. The key words used were: ultrasound, sonography, imaging techniques, ultrasonography, interventional ultrasonography, plantar fascia and plantar fasciitis. The literature search yielded 34 relevant studies. Sixteen studies evaluated the effect of different interventions on PF thickness in patients with PFS using US; 12 studies compared PF thickness between patients with and without PFS using US; 6 studies examined the application of US as a guide for therapeutic intervention in patients with PFS. There were variations among studies in terms of methodology used.

The results suggested that US can be considered a reliable imaging technique for assessing PF thickness, monitoring the effect of different interventions and directing therapeutic interventions in patients with PFS.