Clinical utility of temporal subtraction images in successive whole-body bone scans: evaluation in a prospective clinical study

J Digit Imaging. 2011 Aug;24(4):680-7. doi: 10.1007/s10278-010-9322-5.


In order to aid radiologists' routine work for interpreting bone scan images, we developed a computerized method for temporal subtraction (TS) images which can highlight interval changes between successive whole-body bone scans, and we performed a prospective clinical study for evaluating the clinical utility of the TS images. We developed a TS image server which includes an automated image-retrieval system, an automated image-conversion system, an automated TS image-producing system, a computer interface for displaying and evaluating TS images with five subjective scales, and an automated data-archiving system. In this study, the radiologist could revise his/her report after reviewing the TS images if the findings on the TS image were confirmed retrospectively on our clinical picture archiving and communication system. We had 256 consenting patients of whom 143 had two or more whole-body bone scans available for TS images. In total, we obtained TS images successfully in 292 (96.1%) pairs and failed to produce TS images in 12 pairs. Among the 292 TS studies used for diagnosis, TS images were considered as "extremely beneficial" or "somewhat beneficial" in 247 (84.6%) pairs, as "no utility" in 44 pairs, and as "somewhat detrimental" in only one pair. There was no TS image for any pairs that was considered "extremely detrimental." In addition, the radiologists changed their initial reported impression in 18 pairs (6.2%). The benefit to the radiologist of using TS images in the routine interpretation of successive whole-body bone scans was significant, with negligible detrimental effects.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radionuclide Imaging / methods*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Subtraction Technique
  • Technetium Tc 99m Medronate / analogs & derivatives
  • Whole Body Imaging / methods*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • technetium Tc 99m hydroxymethylene diphosphonate
  • Technetium Tc 99m Medronate