Despite the application of EANM recommendations for radiolabelled white-blood-cells (WBC) scintigraphy, some cases still remain doubtful based only on visual analysis. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of semi-quantitative analysis and bone marrow scan (BMS) in solving doubtful cases. We retrospectively evaluated all [99mTc]HMPAO-WBC scintigraphies performed, in the last 7 years, for a suspected monolateral prosthetic joint infection (PJI). In doubtful cases, we used five different thresholds of increase of target-to-background (T/B) ratio, between delayed and late images, as criteria of positivity (5%, 10%, 15%, 20% and 30%). BMS were also analysed and sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of different methods were calculated according to final diagnosis. The sensitivity, specificity and accuracy were, respectively, 77.8%, 43.8% and 53.0% for the cut-off at 5%; 72.2%, 66.7% and 68.2% for the cut-off at 10%; 66.7%, 75.0% and 72.7% for the cut-off at 15%; 66.7%, 85.4% and 80.3% for the cut-off at 20%; 33.3%, 93.8% and 77.3% for the cut-off at 30%. BMS provided a significantly higher diagnostic performance than 5%, 10% and 15% thresholds. Conversely, we did not observe any statistically significant difference between BMS and the cut-off of more than 20%. Therefore, doubtful cases should be analysed semi-quantitatively. An increase in T/B ratio of more than 20% between delayed and late images, should be considered as a criterion of positivity, thus avoiding BMS.
Keywords: BMS; WBC scintigraphy; qualitative analysis; semi-quantitative analysis.