Radionuclide Bone Imaging: An Illustrative Review

Charito Love, Anabella S. Din, Maria B. Tomas, Tomy P. Kalapparambath, Christopher J. Palestro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

322 Scopus citations


Bone scintigraphy with technetium-99m-labeled diphosphonates is one of the most frequently performed of all radionuclide procedures. Radionuclide bone imaging is not specific, but its excellent sensitivity makes it useful in screening for many pathologic conditions. Moreover, some conditions that are not clearly depicted on anatomic images can be diagnosed with bone scintigraphy. Bone metastases usually appear as multiple foci of increased activity, although they occasionally manifest as areas of decreased uptake. Traumatic processes can often be detected, even when radiographic findings are negative. Most fractures are scintigraphically detectable within 24 hours, although in elderly patients with osteopenia, further imaging at a later time is sometimes indicated. Athletic individuals are prone to musculoskeletal trauma, and radionuclide bone imaging is useful for identifying pathologic conditions such as plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, "shin splints," and spondylolysis, for which radiographs may be nondiagnostic. A combination of focal hyperperfusion, focal hyperemia, and focally increased bone uptake is virtually diagnostic for osteomyelitis in patients with nonviolated bone. Bone scintigraphy is also useful for evaluating disease extent in Paget disease and for localizing avascular necrosis in patients with negative radiographs. Radionuclide bone imaging will likely remain a popular and important imaging modality for years to come.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-358
Number of pages18
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone neoplasms, secondary, 40.33
  • Bones, infection, 40.21
  • Bones, radionuclide studies, 40.1216, 40.12172
  • Radionuclide imaging, 40.1216, 40.12172
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy, 40.565
  • Spondylolysis, 30.42
  • Trauma, 40.41

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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