A musculoskeletal radiologist's view of nuclear medicine

Semin Nucl Med. 1997 Oct;27(4):372-85. doi: 10.1016/s0001-2998(97)80010-4.


The introduction of cross-sectional and multiplanar imaging techniques has not diminished the value of radionuclide bone scanning. Skeletal scintigraphy remains an extremely effective and relatively inexpensive tool for diagnosis of many disorders of bones and joints. The sensitivity of scintigraphy in detecting stress fractures approaches 100%, although it is less specific than plain film radiography. However, radionuclide bone scanning can reveal subtle early changes in bone metabolism. For evaluation of infections, particularly in patients with diabetic foot neuropathy, scintigraphy is the modality of choice, although a combination of imaging techniques may be necessary in previously damaged bone. Radionuclide bone scanning has retained its place in the evaluation of primary bone tumors and metastases, and in screening of patients with metabolic bone disease. The radiologist should be aware that although this modality is generally used as an ancillary technique in conjunction with plain radiography, conventional tomography, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), at times it can be used as the primary modality not only for the identification of skeletal lesions but also to provide important information required to make a definite diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Osteomyelitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Soft Tissue Infections / diagnostic imaging