A prospective comparison of clinical examination, MRI, bone SPECT, and arthroscopy to detect meniscal tears

Clin Nucl Med. 1998 Dec;23(12):803-6. doi: 10.1097/00003072-199812000-00002.


Recent studies have shown that SPECT bone scintigraphy is valuable to detect meniscal tears of the knee. This has not been formally assessed in a prospective study, and no substantive study has compared bone SPECT with other noninvasive diagnostic methods. One hundred consecutive patients referred to an orthopedic surgeon with undiagnosed knee pain were assessed by clinical examination, MRI, SPECT bone scintigraphy, and arthroscopy. The MRI and SPECT bone scan findings were reported blinded to other information. Using arthroscopy as a gold standard, both MRI and SPECT showed high diagnostic ability to detect meniscal tears, with respective sensitivity rate, specificity rates, and positive and negative predictive accuracies of 80%, 71%, 84%, and 71% for MRI and 84%, 80%, 88%, and 76% for SPECT. Some meniscal tears were detected by MRI alone (n = 5) or SPECT alone (n = 8). SPECT bone scintigraphy is a suitable alternative to MRI to detect meniscal tears. The comparable diagnostic ability of SPECT bone scintigraphy implies that it can be used successfully when MRI is unavailable or unsuitable.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthroscopy
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Technetium Tc 99m Medronate
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium Tc 99m Medronate