Although metatarsophalangeal (MTP) plantar plate tears are common, they are still often missed. The purpose of this study is to find the best clinical variables to define and grade the plantar plate injuries. Sixty-eight patients (100 MTP joints) were graded arthroscopically and divided into five groups (0 to IV) according to the anatomical classification. Their medical records were reviewed to establish correlations of clinical findings with the anatomical lesions. The positive correlations found were acute pain, widening of the interdigital space, loss of ground touch, positivity of the MTP joint drawer test, reduction of the toe purchase, and toe supination. The drawer test is the most reliable and accurate tool to classify and grade the plantar plate lesion, followed by ground touch and rotational deformities. It is possible to improve the accuracy of diagnosis of plantar plate tears by means of the combination of both clinical history and physical examination data. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 23(4):214–223, 2014) Key words: clinical history, diagnose, lesser toe deformities, metatarsophalangeal joint, MTP instability, MTP plantar plate lesions, physical examination
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