New routine for nuclear medicine technologists to determine when to add SPECT/CT to a whole-body bone scan

J Nucl Med Technol. 2014 Mar;42(1):28-32. doi: 10.2967/jnmt.113.132035. Epub 2014 Jan 27.


Bone scintigraphy is usually obtained as a whole-body scan producing 2 images: an anterior view and a posterior view. Sometimes abnormal findings in the spine are difficult to distinguish on whole-body bone scans. SPECT/CT may be performed to localize and interpret a lesion correctly and to help differentiate between benign and metastatic lesions. The assessment of whether SPECT/CT is needed is usually made by a physician. The aim of this study was to evaluate our new routine for nuclear medicine technologists to determine when to add SPECT/CT to whole-body bone scintigraphy.

Methods: A 3-part educational course was developed for the nuclear medicine technologists. The first part was to learn criteria for when SPECT/CT should be added to a whole-body bone scan. The second part was to review a selection of training whole-body bone scans illustrating the criteria. The third part was to pass a test of whether whole-body bone scans should be supplemented by SPECT/CT.

Results: The nuclear medicine technologists and the physicians agreed that SPECT/CT was required in 63 cases and not required in 27 cases. The resulting percentage agreement was 90%, and the κ value was 0.77. There was disagreement in 10 cases. In 6 of these cases only the nuclear medicine technologists wanted to add SPECT/CT, and in 4 of these cases only the physicians wanted to add SPECT/CT.

Conclusion: After participating in the training course developed in this project, the nuclear medicine technologists were able to decide whether a SPECT/CT study is needed. An implication of this result is that the effectiveness of the nuclear medicine department should be improved after our new routine is implemented. The successful outcome of this project may stimulate departments to take on similar quality-improvement projects in the future.

Keywords: SPECT/CT; assessment; criteria; image interpretation; whole-body bone scan.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Multimodal Imaging*
  • Nuclear Medicine / education*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Whole Body Imaging*