Köhler disease is an eponymous term referring to chilhood onset avascular necrosis of the navicular bone in the foot. Mueller Weiss syndrome is the adult counterpart of navicular bone avascular necrosis. 4,5
It typically presents in the paediatric population (4-6 years age) and there is a recognised male predilection.
Although the aetiology remains unknown, a vascular incident is suspected. Delayed bone age has also been noted in some cases and may play a part in the pathogenesis of this entity.
- navicular may appear wafer-like (thinned) and fragmented
- demonstrates patchy sclerosis (similar to avascular necrosis elsewhere)
- often associated soft tissue swelling
Cross-sectional imaging is usually not required but may be necessary if pain persists or the diagnosis is not clear.
Treatment and prognosis
Köhler disease often tends to be self-limiting and heals spontaneously with reossification and reconstitution within a few years. Application of a below knee weight-bearing cast may improve symptoms and is recommended, typically for 6-to-7 weeks.
History and etymology
It was first described in 1908 by Alban Köhler, a German radiologist (1874-1947) 1.
Usually, there is little difficulty in making the diagnosis. If symptoms persist then tarsal coalition should be sought.
- 1. Köhler A. Über eine häufige, bisher anscheinend unbekannte Erkrankung einzelner kindlicher Knochen. Münchener medizinische Wochenschrift. 1908, 55: 1923-1925.
- 2. Stanton BK, Karlin JM, Scurran BL. Köhler's disease. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 1992;82 (12): 625-9. - Pubmed citation
- 3. Sharp RJ, Calder JD, Saxby TS. Osteochondritis of the navicular: a case report. Foot Ankle Int. 2003;24 (6): 509-13. - Pubmed citation
- 4. Haller J, Sartoris DJ, Resnick D et-al. Spontaneous osteonecrosis of the tarsal navicular in adults: imaging findings. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1988;151 (2): 355-8. doi:10.2214/ajr.151.2.355 - Pubmed citation
- 5. Rosenberg ZS, Beltran J, Bencardino JT. From the RSNA Refresher Courses. Radiological Society of North America. MR imaging of the ankle and foot. Radiographics. 2000;20 Spec No (suppl_1): S153-79. doi:10.1148/radiographics.20.suppl_1.g00oc26s153 - Pubmed citation