Patterns, variants, artifacts, and pitfalls in conventional radionuclide bone imaging and SPECT/CT

Semin Nucl Med. 2009 Nov;39(6):380-95. doi: 10.1053/j.semnuclmed.2009.07.003.


Bone scintigraphy is one of the most common investigations performed in nuclear medicine and is used routinely in the evaluation of patients with cancer for suspected bone metastases and in various benign musculoskeletal conditions. Innovations in equipment design and other advances, such as single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography, positron emission tomography/computed tomography (CT), and SPECT/CT have been incorporated into the investigation of various musculoskeletal diseases. Bone scans frequently show high sensitivity but specificity, which is variable or limited. Some of the limited specificity can be partially addressed by a thorough knowledge and experience of normal variants and common patterns to avoid misinterpretation. In this review, we discuss the common patterns, variants, artifacts, and pitfalls in conventional radionuclide planar, SPECT, and hybrid bone (SPECT/CT) imaging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Artifacts*
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Radioactive Tracers
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / instrumentation
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / instrumentation
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • Radioactive Tracers