Value of bone SPECT-CT to predict chronic pain relief after percutaneous vertebroplasty in vertebral fractures

Spine J. 2011 Dec;11(12):1102-7. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2011.11.003.


Background context: Longer life span has resulted in increased risk of vertebral osteoporotic fractures. Among minimally invasive procedures, percutaneous vertebroplasty (PV) has shown excellent results in the treatment of chronic vertebral pain. The role of preintervention bone single photon emission computed tomography-computed tomography (SPECT-CT) has not been clearly established for the management of these patients.

Purpose: To determine the value of bone SPECT-CT in patient selection, treatment planning, and prediction of response to PV. A comparison with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was also aimed.

Study design: Prospective consecutive series.

Patient sample: We studied the performance of bone SPECT-CT on 33 consecutive patients with chronic pain because of vertebral fracture intended for PV.

Outcome measures: Improvement of clinical status was based on comparison of preprocedure and postprocedure outcome measurements of pain, mobility, and analgesic use.

Methods: Bone SPECT was done using a dual-detector variable-angle gamma camera coupled with a two-slice CT scanner (Symbia T2 System; Siemens, Munich, Germany). Magnetic resonance imaging was done using a magnet of 1.5 T (Giroscan System ACS NT Intera; Philips, Amsterdam, The Netherlands).

Results: Of the 33 patients, 24 finally underwent PV. Positive SPECT-CT images predicted clinical improvement in 91% (21 of 23) of them. Agreement between SPECT-CT and MRI was 80% (20 of 25). Single photon emission computed tomography-computed tomography images showed an alternative cause of pain in some cases, such as new fractures or multiple coexisting fractures, persisting bone remodeling in a previous cemented vertebra, and facet or discal degenerative disease. Single photon emission computed tomography-computed tomography was mandatory in eight patients that could no receive MRI, all of whom improved after PV.

Conclusions: Positive bone SPECT-CT seems a good predictor of postprocedural response. It also adds valuable information as to the cause of back pain and facilitates complete patient evaluation in patients that can not receive MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Pain / etiology
  • Chronic Pain / surgery*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Pain, Postoperative / diagnosis*
  • Patient Selection
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spinal Fractures / complications
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Fractures / surgery*
  • Spine / pathology
  • Technetium Tc 99m Medronate
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods*
  • Vertebroplasty / methods*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium Tc 99m Medronate