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01-12-2017 | Research | Uitgave 1/2017 Open Access

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 1/2017

Repeatability and agreement of ultrasonography with computed tomography for evaluating forefoot structure in the coronal plane

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research > Uitgave 1/2017
Keisuke Matsubara, Tomofumi Matsushita, Yuto Tashiro, Seishiro Tasaka, Takuya Sonoda, Yasuaki Nakayama, Yuki Yokota, Yusuke Suzuki, Mirei Kawagoe, Tomoki Aoyama



Forefoot structure is important to understand some foot problems such as hallux valgus and metatarsalgia. Ultrasonography (US) is a highly portable, noninvasive, low cost, and fast imaging method, especially when compared to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and radiography. As the use of US for evaluating forefoot bony structure has not been validated, except for the presence of synovitis, erosions and bursitis within the forefoot in people with inflammatory arthritis, the purpose of this study was to determine whether US is a reliable method for evaluating forefoot structure.


Sixty feet (30 women, age = 40.1 ± 11.8 years) were examined by US and CT to assess agreement with CT and repeatability of US evaluation of the 2nd metatarsal head height, length between the medial sesamoid bone and 5th metatarsal head, transverse arch height, transverse arch index, sesamoid rotation angle, and area under the transverse arch. The measurement data were evaluated for agreement with CT using the intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC)3, 1, Pearson correlation coefficient, and Bland-Altman plot, and with ICC1, 1 for repeatability.


The ICC3, 1 values of 0.78–0.89, Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.78–0.90, and Bland-Altman plots showed almost perfect agreements between the US and CT method for all parameters, except the area under the transverse arch (AUTA). The ICC1, 1 also showed perfect agreements (0.84–0.92) between two sets of US measurements in all parameters.


The US evaluation of forefoot structure in the coronal plane showed good agreement with CT and repeatability of two ultrasonograms in adult women. This reliable evaluation method of forefoot structure can contribute to a quick clinical assessment screening for risk factors of foot problems such as hallux valgus and metatarsalgia. However, because of some limitations such as a lack of inter-observer reliability, more research is needed to validate US evaluation of forefoot structure.

Trial registration

The current study (trial registration number: R0297) was approved by the Ethical Committee for Human Experiments of Kyoto University (http://​www.​ec.​med.​kyoto-u.​ac.​jp) on December 3, 2015. The first participant in this study was enrolled on November 17, 2015 and retrospectively registered.

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