Acute hot foot: Charcot neuroarthropathy or osteomyelitis? Untangling a diagnostic web.BMJ Case Rep. 2019 May 13; 12(5)BC
A 55-year-old man with poorly controlled type 1 diabetes with microvascular and macrovascular complications presented with a 1-week history of painful erythematous swelling on the dorsum of the left foot with two areas of foot ulceration. Inflammatory markers were raised. MRI of the left foot revealed a soft tissue swelling on the dorsum of the left foot, marrow oedema and destruction of several small joints of the foot, indicating osteomyelitis and Charcot neuroarthropathy (CN). The soft tissue swelling on the dorsum of the left foot was debrided; per-operatively bone destruction of base of the fifth metatarsal was found. The patient received intravenous antibiotics for 6 weeks. The clinical features of CN including erythema, oedema and elevated temperature of the left foot settled with off-loading the foot in an air cast walker after 6 months. Our case highlights the need to recognise CN in an acutely inflamed foot of diabetic patients with neuropathy, even when other conditions like soft tissue infection and osteomyelitis can explain the clinical features.