Charcot neuroarthropathy triggered by osteomyelitis and/or surgery.Diabet Med. 2008 Dec; 25(12):1469-72.DM
Charcot neuroarthropathy (CN) is a rare but devastating complication of diabetic neuropathy. Osteomyelitis is also a complication of the diabetic foot and it may be difficult to differentiate from CN.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
A patient with Type 1 diabetes and peripheral neuropathy developed a foot ulcer complicated by osteomyelitis of the first proximal phalanx. He was successfully treated with antibiotics and surgical excision of the infected bone. Six months later, he developed a hot, swollen, red foot and X-ray showed destruction of the second and third metatarsal heads. At the second presentation, it was difficult to determine whether this was a recurrence of osteomyelitis or a new onset of CN. Thus, to obtain a definitive diagnosis, recourse was made to more sophisticated imaging techniques.
99mTc methylenediphosphonate (MDP) bone scans and magnetic resonance imaging proved inconclusive to differentiate between osteomyelitis and CN. Subsequently, an indium-labelled white cell scan confirmed the absence of osteomyelitis and the patient was successfully treated for CN.
Infection and/or surgery may be predisposing factors in the development of diabetic CN but the combination of the two could accelerate the onset of the Charcot process in people with diabetes and neuropathy.