Indian Journal of Nuclear Medicine
Home | About IJNM | Search | Current Issue | Past Issues | Instructions | Ahead of Print | Online submissionLogin 
Indian Journal of Nuclear Medicine
  Editorial Board | Subscribe | Advertise | Contact
Users Online: 470 Print this page  Email this page Small font size Default font size Increase font size

 Table of Contents     
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 45-47  

Utility of 99m Tc-MDP SPECT-CT for the diagnosis of sesamoiditis as cause of metatarsalgia

Department of Nuclear Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication15-Mar-2013

Correspondence Address:
Rakesh Kumar
E-81, Ansari Nagar (East) AIIMS Campus, New Delhi - 110 029
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-3919.108865

Rights and Permissions

Metatarsalgia is a general term for pain in the area of the metatarsophalangeal joints. Sesamoiditis is an uncommon cause of metatarsalgia. It is pain at the sesamoid bones beneath the head of the first metatarsal with inflammation or fracture. The diagnosis is usually clinical, with localized tenderness on palpation. Diagnosing the cause of metatarsalgia in patients without this classical sign is difficult. We present here such a case of a 37-year-old lady in whom sesamoiditis was diagnosed with technetium-99m ( 99m Tc)-methylene diphosphonate (MDP) single photon emission tomography-computed tomography (SPECT-CT).

Keywords: Methylene diphosphonate, sesamoiditis, single photon emission tomography-computed tomography

How to cite this article:
Sharma P, Singh H, Agarwal KK, Sudhir Suman K C, Khangembam BC, Bal C, Malhotra A, Kumar R. Utility of 99m Tc-MDP SPECT-CT for the diagnosis of sesamoiditis as cause of metatarsalgia. Indian J Nucl Med 2012;27:45-7

How to cite this URL:
Sharma P, Singh H, Agarwal KK, Sudhir Suman K C, Khangembam BC, Bal C, Malhotra A, Kumar R. Utility of 99m Tc-MDP SPECT-CT for the diagnosis of sesamoiditis as cause of metatarsalgia. Indian J Nucl Med [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Jan 22];27:45-7. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Pain in the first metatarsal sesamoid is an underdiagnosed clinical entity that may contribute up to 4% of overuse-type foot injuries, [1],[2] Sesamoiditis maybe defined as inflammation of the sesamoid bones and/or apparatus due to varied biomechanical and nonmechanical factors causing pain in the anatomical region of the sesamoids. [1],[3] The pain of sesamoiditis maybe a dull aching type or a sharp throbbing type of pain, usually of insidious onset, and may prevent the patient from walking. It maybe over one or both the sesamoids, although the medial one is involved more frequently. Point tenderness is elicitable over the inflamed bone, usually over the inferior and medial aspect of the ball of the great toe. However, this may not always be present as was the case in the present study. Under such circumstances, diagnosis maybe very difficult. Routine radiological imaging is not of much help in such patients. We present here such a case and the utility of 99m Tc-methylene diphosphonate (MDP) single photon emission tomography-computed tomography (SPECT-CT) in making an accurate diagnosis.

   Case Report Top

A 37-year-old lady was sent for a 99m Tc-MDP bone scintigraphy for evaluation of nonspecific pain in the right foot. She was nondiabetic. The pain was not localized; it was aggravated with walking. She gave a history of wearing high heels. There was no history of trauma. On clinical examination, no point tenderness was elicitable. Radiographs of the right leg and foot were unremarkable. Three-phase bone scintigraphy was done after intravenous injection of 740 MBq (20 mCi) of 99m Tc-MDP. Flow [Figure 1]a and pool images [Figure 1]b and c of the feet were unremarkable. Delayed planar imaging acquired three hours after radiotracer injection showed a faint focal area of tracer uptake in the region of the right great toe [Figure 1]d. SPECT-CT images of bilateral feet were acquired on a dedicated SPECT-CT system (Symbia T6, Seimens Medical Solutions, USA). CT images were unremarkable [Figure 2]a. SPECT [Figure 2]b and SPECT-CT [Figure 2]c images showed focally increased radiotracer uptake in the lateral right sesamoid bone. Volume-rendered SPECT-CT image [Figure 3] showed the radiotracer uptake in the right lateral sesamoid bone. Based on SPECT-CT findings, a diagnosis of sesamoiditis was made. The patient underwent a change of footwear and used specifically advised shoes having insoles with sesamoid protective padding. [3] Pain was much relieved at three months follow-up.
Figure 1: 99mTc methylene diphosphonate (MDP) planar scintigraphy images of the patient. Flow (a) and pool (b) Anterior; (c) Posterior) images are unremarkable. On delayed images, mild focal uptake noted in the region of great toe (arrow) [R: Right]

Click here to view
Figure 2: Single photon emission tomography-computed tomography (SPECT-CT) images of feet. CT images (a) do not show any abnormality of right lateral sesamoid (arrow). SPECT (b) and SPECT-CT (c) images show focal uptake of radiotracer in right lateral sesamoid (arrow) [R: Right]

Click here to view
Figure 3: Volume-rendered 99mTc methylene diphosphonate (MDP) single photon emission tomography-computed tomography (SPECT-CT) images of right foot. The volume of focal uptake of SPECT (arrow) is superimposed on the volume-rendered CT images. Characteristic pattern of uptake in the sesamoid bone is seen

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

The sesamoid bones are usually two seed-shaped bones (medial or tibial and lateral or fibular) that lie below the first metatarsal head, embedded in the two tendons of the split flexor hallucis brevis. They are both parts of true synovial joints with hyaline cartilage interfaces. Their location allows them not only to modify the pressure of weight bearing but also to provide a biomechanical advantage during walking. [4] Sesamoid disorders account for 9% of foot and ankle injuries and 1.2% of running injuries. [5] Although anyone can suffer from a sesamoid disorder, chronic sesamoid afflictions seem to occur more frequently in active patient populations. Given the myriad disorders that may affect the first metatarsophalyngeal joint (MTPJ), sesamoid disorders are often a diagnosis of exclusion and so it is important to evaluate this condition thoroughly and follow the clinical course closely.

Sesamoiditis is a generalized term for a painful inflammatory condition associated with a sesamoid complex devoid of radiographic changes. It is usually attributed to stressful mechanical activities. Teens and young adults have a higher predilection for this disorder. Factors that increase susceptibility include a plantar flexed first ray, asymmetry in size, condylar malformation, rotational malalignment, and symmetric enlargement. Physical examination can reveal pain with direct palpation or passive distal push on the sesamoid apparatus, passive dorsiflexion of the hallux, and crepitus along the distal course of the flexer hallucis longus. There maybe edema, bursal thickening, and inflammation plantarly. The differential diagnosis of first metatarsal sesamoid pain is varied and includes inflammatory bone disease, for example, rheumatoid arthritis or bony infection, ligamentous or tendinous disruption, avascular necrosis or osteochondritis, stress fractures, sesamoiditis, and osteoarthritis, normally occurring in a bipartite sesamoid and gout. [6]

The first investigation for sesamoid disorders is usually a radiograph. Generally, weight-bearing radiographs are obtained. A sesamoid axial view allows inspection of the sesamoids, cristae, and the position of the sesamoidal apparatus. [7] However, they are of no help in sesamoiditis and are usually normal, as in the present case. Hence, ancillary imaging maybe warranted. A CT scan can assist the clinician in diagnosing a stress fracture or nonunion, and can delineate post-traumatic changes compared with the contralateral part. [8] However, its utility in the diagnosis of sesamoiditis appears limited. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers little in the direct diagnosis of sesamoid disorders, but does provide clues to the surrounding first MTPJ disorders including flexor hallucis tendonitis, plantar plate disorders, osteochondral injury, or gout. [5]

Although other imaging modalities are of limited use, 99m Tc-MDP bone scintigraphy maybe useful for sesamoiditis. [9] However, it is to be remembered that uptake of 99m Tc-MDP is seen only in 26-29% of asymptomatic patients. [10] Hence, it might not be very useful in asymptomatic patients. Moreover, because of its limited anatomical resolution, it is not able to accurately localize the site of radiotracer uptake to the sesamoid bone. This is especially problematic if the radiotracer uptake is less intense, as in the present case. On planar scintigraphy, a faint focus of tracer uptake was noted in the region of the great toe; however, we were not able to localize its site as well as to determine its clinical significance because of faint uptake. SPECT-CT helped immensely. First, it localized the uptake to the right lateral sesamoid, and second, by correcting for attenuation, it increased the uptake. Volume-rendered SPECT-CT images increased the diagnostic confidence. SPECT-CT has already been shown to be useful for foot arthritis. [11],[12] However, to our knowledge, no published literature exists regarding its utility in sesamoiditis.

Conservative treatment for chronic sesamoiditis includes rest, ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and custom-modified orthosis. [3],[8] These conditions are often caused by repetitive stress, and correcting any abnormal biomechanical influences is the key to long-term success. This correction can be done in a variety of ways including modification of activity, custom-modified orthoses, gel inserts under the sesamoids, a metatarsal bar, or an OrthoWedge shoe. In resistant cases, surgery maybe the only option. In the present case, the patient was advised specifically designed shoes having insoles with sesamoid-protective padding, and the condition improved.

Sesamoiditis is an uncommon but treatable cause of metatarsalgia. In patients presenting with nonspecific symptoms, the diagnosis maybe difficult. The present report highlights the utility of 99m Tc-MDP SPCET-CT in identifying sesamoiditis as a cause of foot pain. Awareness of this fact will help in early diagnosis and proper management of such patients.

   References Top

1.Dennis KJ, McKinney S. Sesamoids and accessory bones of the foot. Clinics Pod Med Surg 1990;7:717-23.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Perlman P. First metatarsal sesamoid pain. Aust Podiatr 1994;2:18-23.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Vanore JV, Christenson JC, Kravitz SR, Schuberth JM, Thomas JL, Weil LS, et al. The diagnosis and treatment of first MTP joint disorders. Section 4: Sesamoid disorders. J Foot Ankle Surg 2003;42:143-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Oloff L, Schulhofer SD. Sesamoid complex disorders. Clin Pod Med Surg 1996;13:497-513.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Dedmond B, Cory JW, McBryde A Jr. The hallucal sesamoid complex. J Am Acad Orthop Surg 2006;14:745-53.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Reber PU, Patel AG, Noesberger B. Gout: Rare cause of hallucal sesamoid pain: A case report. Foot Ankle Int 1997;18:818-20.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Sanders T, Rathur S. Imaging of painful conditions of the hallucal sesamoid complex and plantar capsular structures of the first metatarsophalangeal joint. Radiol Clin North Am 2008;46:1079-92.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Cohen B. Hallux sesamoid disorders. Foot Ankle Clin N Am 2009;14:91-104.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Richardson E. Hallucal sesamoid pain: Causes and surgical treatment. J Am Acad Orthop Surg 1999;7:270-8.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Speed K. Injuries of the great toe sesamoids. Ann Surg 1914;60:478-80.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Pagenstert GI, Barg A, Leumann AG, Rasch H, Müller-Brand J, Hintermann B, et al. SPECT-CT imaging in degenerative joint disease of the foot and ankle. J Bone Joint Surg Br 2009;91:1191-6.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Mohan HK, Gnanasegaran G, Vijayanathan S, Fogelman I. SPECT/CT in imaging foot and ankle pathology-the demise of other coregistration techniques. Semin Nucl Med 2010;40:41-51.  Back to cited text no. 12


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

This article has been cited by
1 Fore-foot: a basic integrated imaging perspective for radiologists
Mohamed R. Nouh,Ahmed A. Khalil
Clinical Imaging. 2014;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Acute Fibular Sesamoid Fracture: One Part of the Spectrum of Sesamoid Pathologies
Tejas Patel,Albert J. Song,Laurie M. Lomasney,Terrence C. Demos,Sarah Dickey
Orthopedics. 2014; 37(10): 650
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded135    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 2    

Recommend this journal