Indian Journal of Radiology Indian Journal of Radiology  

   Login   | Users online: 338

Home Bookmark this page Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font size Increase font size     


MUSCULOSKELETAL Table of Contents   
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 105-108
Pictorial essay: USG of lumps and bumps of the foot and ankle

Department of Musculoskeletal Radiology, University Hospital of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication6-May-2010


USG is a cost-effective and dynamic way to interrogate superficial lumps and bumps. We present a pictorial review of the USG findings in various "lumps and bumps" of the foot and ankle.

Keywords: Foot; lumps; sonography

How to cite this article:
Botchu R, Khan A, Bhatt R. Pictorial essay: USG of lumps and bumps of the foot and ankle. Indian J Radiol Imaging 2010;20:105-8

How to cite this URL:
Botchu R, Khan A, Bhatt R. Pictorial essay: USG of lumps and bumps of the foot and ankle. Indian J Radiol Imaging [serial online] 2010 [cited 2021 Jan 24];20:105-8. Available from:

   Introduction Top

The use of musculoskeletal USG has increased tremendously over the last decade. USG is easily accessible and cheap. It helps to evaluate a lump in real time. The subcutaneous tissue, tendons, plantar fascia, synovium, and ligaments can be assessed with dynamic USG. [1],[2],[3],[4],[5] Familiarity with normal ultrasound appearances and knowledge of anatomy and pathological conditions are the keys to accurate assessment of normal variants and pathological conditions. The use of color and power Doppler enables one to assess the vascularity of lesions. USG can be used in acute, subacute, and chronic conditions. [6] Comparison with the contralateral foot and ankle can help one to identify normal variants and evaluate a lump. Although ultrasound cannot be a replacement for MRI, we feel that it should be the first line of investigation for a lump or bump in the foot. We present the characteristic USG findings of lumps and bumps of the foot and ankle.

   Methodology Top

USG of the foot and ankle was performed with a high-frequency 13 MHz probe (Philips iU22, Philips Medical Systems, DA Best, The Netherlands). The ankle is scanned via medial, lateral, and dorsal approached with patient in supine position. The patient is positioned prone to evaluate the posterior ankle and the tendo-Achilles complex. Foot is scanned via dorsal and plantar approaches. The lumps and bumps are scanned in the axial and longitudinal planes. Color and power Doppler are used to assess the vascularity of a lump and the inflammatory response. The adjacent joints, ligaments, and tendons are assessed dynamically as well. [1],[2],[3],[7] Passive and active movements of the joints are performed while examining the appropriate tendons; this enables the operator to appreciate subluxation, dislocation, and tears better [Figure 1].

We present the characteristic USG findings of various lumps and bumps of the foot and ankle.


This is seen as a well-defined, anechoic cystic lesion containing debris and lying close to the tendon sheath or joint capsule. Septations are noted in a complex ganglion, with echoes within the cyst. Color and power Doppler may demonstrate mild peripheral vascularity [Figure 2].

Vascular malformation

Vascular malformations are seen as well-defined lesion with mixed echogenicity and tortousity. Color and power Doppler demonstrate intense vascularity [Figure 3]. The adjacent tendon and tendon sheaths are normal in appearance. Sometimes, the presence of small speckles of calcification (phleboliths) makes it easier to diagnose.


Anechoic fluid within a normal bursa, with or without increase in bursal wall thickness, is seen in acute bursitis. The wall of the bursa is thickened in chronic bursitis. Hemorrhage within the bursa results in septations and calcification. Color and power Doppler may show increased vascularity. The presence of gas, along with inflammatory changes within the bursa, is suspicious of superadded infection [Figure 4] and [Figure 5].


The tendon is enlarged and the tendon sheath is distended due to anechoic fluid. Hyperemia is noted around the tendon and within the synovium on both color and power Doppler [Figure 6]. It is advisable to search for associated retrocalcaneal bursitis in patients with Achilles tendinosis. [8]


The involved tendon appears enlarged, with loss of echogenicity. Chronic tendinopathy is associated with atrophy of the tendon. Areas of calcification and cystic changes may also be associated with tendinopathy [Figure 7]. The inflamed tendon shows localized or diffuse areas of hypoechogenicity with small vessels within. [9] In the leg, the middle third of the Achilles tendon is the usual site of involvement. [10] A rupture of a tendon may also present as a lump. [10]

Tendon subluxation

The flexor, extensor, and peroneal tendons are held in place with retinaculae. Rupture of these retinaculae may result in subluxation or dislocation of tendons. Dynamic USG enables one to interrogate this effectively. A subluxed or dislocated tendon (e.g., the tendon of the peroneus brevis) may present as a lump around the ankle [Figure 1].


These appear as areas of hyperechogenicity with posterior acoustic shadowing adjacent to the joints and continuous with the bone surface. Comparison with adjacent joints and irregularity of the joint supports the diagnosis [Figure 8].

Morton neuroma

These are seen as areas with predominantly low echogenicity with minimal or no vascularity. Compression of the metatarsal heads displaces these neuromas. This maneuver helps to identify small neuromas [Figure 9].

Foreign body granuloma

Foreign bodies are seen as hyperechoic areas with or without posterior acoustic enhancement. Small hypoechoic areas, consistent with fluid or granulation tissue, may be seen in the vicinity [Figure 10].


Varied appearances are noted in tumors of the foot and ankle. Mixed hypo- and hyperechogenic lesions may be seen. Neurogenic tumors present as areas of varied echogenicity in relation to the nerves [Figure 11].

Plantar fibroma

A plantar fibroma is seen as a well-defined hypoechoic area within the plantar fascia [Figure 12].

Accessory bones

These appear as areas of increased echogenicity with posterior acoustic shadowing. Knowledge of the usual anatomical sites of accessory ossicles and sesamoids is essential to make this diagnosis [Figure 13].

   References Top

1.De Maeseneer M, Marcelis S, Jager T, Shahabpour M, Van Roy P, Weaver J, et al. Sonography of the normal ankle: A target approach using skeletal reference points. AJR Am J Roentgenol 2009;192:487-95.  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
2.Rawool NM, Nazarian LN. Ultrasound of the ankle and foot. Semin Ultrasound CT MR 2000; 21:275-84.  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]    
3.Jacobson JA, Andresen R, Jaovishidha S. Detection of ankle effusions: Comparison study in cadavers using radiography, sonography, and MR imaging. AJR Am J Roentgenol 1998;170:1231-8.  Back to cited text no. 3      
4.Fessell DP, van Holsbeeck MT. Foot and ankle sonography. Radiol Clin North Am 1999; 37:831-58.  Back to cited text no. 4      
5.Milbradt H, Thermann H, Hoffmann R, Galanski M. Diagnostic possibilities of sonography: Ankle joint, foot and Achilles tendon. Bildgebung 1993; 60:256-60.  Back to cited text no. 5  [PUBMED]    
6.Geusens E, Pans S, Van Breuseghem L, Brys P. Ultrasound in acute trauma of the ankle and hindfoot. Emerg Radiol 2002; 9:283-8.  Back to cited text no. 6      
7.Galluzzo E, Lischi DM, Taglione E, Lombardini F, Pasero G, Perri G, et al. Sonographic analysis of the ankle in patients with psoriatic arthritis. Scand J Rheumatol 2000; 29:52-5.  Back to cited text no. 7  [PUBMED]    
8.Gibbon WW, Cooper JR, Radcliffe GS. Distribution of sonographically detected tendon abnormalities in patients with a clinical diagnosis of chronic Achilles tendinosis. J Clin Ultrasound 2000; 28:61-6.  Back to cited text no. 8  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
9.Premkumar A, Perry MB, Dwyer AJ, Gerber LH, Johnson D, Venzon D, et al. Sonography and MR imaging of posterior tibial tendinopathy. AJR Am J Roentgenol 2002;178:223-32.  Back to cited text no. 9  [PUBMED]    
10.Richards PJ, Dheer AK, McCall IM. Achilles Tendon (TA) size and power doppler ultrasound (pd) changes compared to MRI: A preliminary observational study. Clin Radiol 2001;56:843-50.  Back to cited text no. 10  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  

Correspondence Address:
Rajesh Botchu
11 Jackson Way, Kettering, NN15 7DL
United Kingdom
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-3026.63048

Rights and Permissions


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8], [Figure 9], [Figure 10], [Figure 11], [Figure 12], [Figure 13]

This article has been cited by
1 Lumps and bumps around the foot and ankle: an assessment of frequency with ultrasound and MRI
Akash Ganguly,Hifz Aniq,Bill Skiadas
Skeletal Radiology. 2013; 42(8): 1051
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


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

    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded792    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal