Radiological and Radionuclide Imaging of Degenerative Disease of the Facet Joints

Indian J Nucl Med. 2015 Jul-Sep;30(3):191-8. doi: 10.4103/0972-3919.158526.


The facet joint has been increasingly implicated as a potential source of lower back pain. Diagnosis can be challenging as there is not a direct correlation between facet joint disease and clinical or radiological features. The purpose of this article is to review the diagnosis, treatment, and current imaging modality options in the context of degenerative facet joint disease. We describe each modality in turn with a pictorial review using current evidence. Newer hybrid imaging techniques such as single photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (SPECT/CT) provide additional information relative to the historic gold standard magnetic resonance imaging. The diagnostic benefits of SPECT/CT include precise localization and characterization of spinal lesions and improved diagnosis for lower back pain. It may have a role in selecting patients for local therapeutic injections, as well as guiding their location with increased precision.

Keywords: Facet joint disease; imaging; lower back pain.

Publication types

  • Review