The “Balgrist Score” for evaluation of Charcot foot: a predictive value for duration of off-loading treatment

Objective: To develop a new magnetic resonance imaging(MRI) scoring system for evaluation of active Charcot foot and to correlate the score with a duration of off-loading treatment ≥ 90 days.

Methods: An outpatient clinic database was searched retrospectively for MRIs of patients with active Charcot foot who completed off-loading treatment. Images were assessed by two radiologists (readers 1 and 2) and an orthopedic surgeon (reader 3). Sanders/Frykberg regions I-V were evaluated for soft tissue edema, bone marrow edema, erosions, subchondral cysts, joint destruction, fractures, and overall regional manifestation using a score according to degree of severity (0-3 points). Intraclass correlations (ICC) for interreader agreement and receiver operating characteristic analysis between MR findings and duration of off-loading-treatment were calculated.

Results: Sixty-five feet in 56 patients (34 men) with a mean age of 62.4 years (range: 44.5-85.5) were included. Region III (reader 1/reader 2: 93.6/90.8%) and region II (92.3/90.8%) were most affected. The most common findings in all regions were soft tissue edema and bone marrow edema. Mean time between MRI and cessation of off-loading-treatment was 150 days (range: 21-405). The Balgrist Score was defined in regions II and III using soft tissue edema, bone marrow edema, joint destruction, and fracture. Interreader agreement for Balgrist Score was excellent: readers 1/2: ICC 0.968 (95% CI: 0.948, 0.980); readers 1/2/3: ICC 0.856 (0.742, 0.917). A cutoff of ≥ 9.0 points in Balgrist Score (specificity 72%, sensitivity 66%) indicated a duration of off-loading treatment ≥ 90 days.

Conclusion: The Balgrist Score is a new MR scoring system for assessment of active Charcot foot with excellent interreader agreement. The Balgrist Score can help to identify patients with off-loading treatment ≥ 90 days.

Keywords: Charcot foot; Conservative treatment; Diabetic foot; MR imaging; Neuropathic arthropathy.

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