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J Hand Surg Am. 1989 May;14(3):520-3.

Factors affecting the sensitivity and specificity of the three-phase technetium bone scan in the diagnosis of reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome in the upper extremity.

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  • 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor 48109-0042.


The three-phase technetium bone scan has been recommended for use in the diagnosis of the reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome with a sensitivity and specificity of greater than 90%. A retrospective chart review was conducted of 63 patients who had three-phase technetium bone scan as part of a work-up for unexplained upper extremity pain, to determine the predictive value of the three-phase technetium bone scan in reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, and what factors might affect it. The prevalence of definite or probable reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, as assessed by Kozin's criteria, was 26% in this sample. The 3-hour delayed image demonstrated a sensitivity = 50%; specificity = 92%; positive predictive value = 67%, and negative predictive value = 84%. This was not improved using the data from the blood flow or pool phase. The sensitivity of 50% is lower than previous reports. The predictive value of the three-phase technetium bone scan was affected by the duration of symptoms and the age of the patient. Duration of symptoms less than 6 months, or ages more than 50 years substantially increased the sensitivity and positive predictive value of the three-phase technetium bone scan.

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