Freiberg's Disease

Topic updated on 06/13/14 10:43pm
  • Osteonecrosis most often seen in 2nd second metatarsal (MT) head
    • also known as Freiberg's infraction
      • term is a combination of infarction and fracture
  • Epidemiology
    • demographics
      • most commonly seen in patients 13-18 years
      • more common in female adolescent athletes
    • risk factors
      • more common in patients with long 2nd metatarsals 
  • Pathophysiology
    • thought to be related to a disruption in the blood supply due to microtrauma and stress overloading
      • leads to eventual collapse of 2nd MT head
Smillie Classification
Stage 1 Subchondral fracture visible only on MRI
Stage 2 Dorsal collapse of articular surface on plain radiographs
Stage 3 Collapse of dorsal MT head, with plantar articular portion intact  
Stage 4 Collapse of entire MT head, joint space narrowing   
Stage 5 Severe arthritic changes and joint space obliteration  
  • Symptoms
    • forefoot pain localized to head of the second MT
      • worse with weight bearing activities
  • Physical exam
    • swelling and limitation of motion in 2nd MTP joint
  • Radiographs 
    • recommended views
      • AP, lateral, obliques of foot
    • findings (see Smillie classification)
      • sclerosis in early disease 
      • flattening of involved MT head 
      • joint destruction in late disease  
      • defect is usually located in the upper half of the articular surface of the MT head
  • MRI 
    • findings
      • can show patchy edema in metatarsal head 
  • Nonoperative
    • activity limitations, NSAIDS, immobilization
      • indications
        • early stage of disease
      • technique
        • short leg walking cast for 3-4 weeks
          • can be used if symptoms are severe and do not improve with orthotics
        • stiff-soled shoe with MT bars or pads
          • typically used after period of casting
  • Operative
    • metatarsophalangeal arthrotomy with removal of loose bodies
      • indications
        • very rarely indicated
        • only if extensive nonoperative management fails
    • dorsiflexion closing and shortening osteotomy 
      • indications
        • dorsal disease involvement of bone and cartilage
    • DuVries arthroplasty (partial MT head resection)  
      • indications
        • severe stage 4 or 5 disease
        • plantar cartilage is not sufficient to reconstruct joint
  • Metatarsophalangeal arthrotomy with removal of loose bodies
    • approach
      • lesser toe MTP joint approach 
    • technique
      • may be combined with drilling of metatarsal head, subchondral bone grafting, and interposition arthroplasty using EDL tendon
      • metatarsal head resection should be avoided due to increased loads on adjacent metatarsal heads
  • Dorsiflexion closing and shortening osteotomy
    • goals
      • shortening offloads stress on metatarsal head
    • approach
      • lesser toe MTP joint approach 
    • technique
      • bring less affected plantar cartilage into contact with proximal phalanx
  • Degenerative joint disease
    • of 2nd MTP joint in adulthood


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