Foot drop is usually caused by peroneal neuropathy which is the most common compression neuropathy (damage to a single nerve or nerve group) of the lower extremity. "Electromyography (EMG) andmagnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are commonly used to evaluate the peroneal nerve in patients with foot drop, however, they are not always effective,’ said Tom Grant, DO, lead author of the study.
The study, performed at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, in Chicago, IL, included 15 patients with foot drop who were evaluated using high resolution ultrasound. "Ultrasound was found to be highly effective for the characterization of the common peroneal nerve, including intrinsic and extrinsic causes of peroneal neuropathy," said Grant. All patients evaluated were found to have peroneal neuropathy.
"Ultrasound is less expensive than EMG and MRI, it is painless, and as our study suggests, is highly effective for the evaluation of patients with foot drop," he said.
"Ultrasound should be considered as a first test in the evaluation of patients with foot drop. If the ultrasound is normal, then EMG and MRI should be performed," said Grant.