Impact of Charcot neuroarthropathy on metatarsal bone mineral density and geometric strength indices

David J. Gutekunst, Kirk E. Smith, Paul K. Commean, Kathryn L. Bohnert, Fred W. Prior, David R. Sinacore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Charcot neuroarthropathy (CN), an inflammatory condition characterized by rapid and progressive destruction of pedal bones and joints, often leads to deformity and ulceration in individuals with diabetes mellitus (DM) and peripheral neuropathy (PN). Repetitive, unperceived joint trauma may trigger initial CN damage, causing a proinflammatory cascade that can result in osteolysis and contribute to subsequent neuropathic fracture. We aimed to characterize osteolytic changes related to development and progression of CN by measuring bone mineral density (BMD) and geometric strength indices using volumetric quantitative computed tomography. Twenty individuals with DM + PN were compared to twenty age-, sex-, and race-matched individuals with DM + PN and acute CN. We hypothesized that individuals with acute CN would have decreased BMD and decreased total area, cortical area, minimum section modulus, and cortical thickness in the diaphysis of the second and fifth metatarsals. Results showed BMD was lower in both involved and uninvolved feet of CN participants compared to DM + PN participants, with greater reductions in involved CN feet compared to uninvolved CN feet. There was a non-significant increase in total area and cortical area in the CN metatarsals, which helps explain the finding of similar minimum section modulus in DM + PN and CN subjects despite the CN group's significantly lower BMD. Larger cortical area and section modulus are typically considered signs of greater bone strength due to higher resistance to compressive and bending loads, respectively. In CN metatarsals, however, these findings may reflect periosteal woven bone apposition, i.e., a hypertrophic response to injury rather than increased fracture resistance. Future research using these techniques will aid further understanding of the inflammation-mediated bony changes associated with development and progression of CN and other diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-413
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Bone mineral density
  • Charcot neuroarthropathy
  • Computed tomography
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Peripheral neuropathy


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