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Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2004 Nov;31(11):1505-11. Epub 2004 Jul 6.

Clinical feasibility of two-step streptavidin/111In-biotin scintigraphy in patients with suspected vertebral osteomyelitis.

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Regional Center of Nuclear Medicine, University of Pisa Medical School, Pisa, Italy.



Streptavidin accumulates at sites of inflammation and infection as a result of increased capillary permeability. In addition to being utilised by bacteria for their own growth, biotin forms a stable, high-affinity non-covalent complex with avidin. The objective of this investigation was to determine the diagnostic performance of two-step streptavidin/111In-biotin imaging for evaluating patients with suspected vertebral osteomyelitis.


We evaluated 55 consecutive patients with suspected vertebral osteomyelitis (34 women and 21 men aged 27-86 years), within 2 weeks after the onset of clinical symptoms. Thirty-two of the patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and 24, computed tomography (CT). DTPA-conjugated biotin was radiolabelled by incubating 500 microg of DTPA-biotin with 111 MBq of 111In-chloride. Two-step scintigraphy was performed by first infusing 3 mg streptavidin intravenously, followed 4 h later by 111In-biotin. Imaging was begun 60 min later.


Streptavidin/111In-biotin scintigraphy was positive in 32/34 patients with spinal infection (94.12% sensitivity). The study was negative in 19/21 patients without infection (95.24% specificity). The corresponding results for MRI and CT were 54.17% and 35.29% (sensitivity), and 75% and 57.14% (specificity), respectively. All statistical parameters of diagnostic performance (Youden's J index, kappa measure of agreement with correct classification, accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, positive likelihood and negative likelihood) were clearly better for streptavidin/111In-biotin scintigraphy than for either MRI or CT.


Streptavidin/111In-biotin scintigraphy is highly sensitive and specific for detecting vertebral osteomyelitis in the first 2 weeks after the onset of clinical symptoms, and is potentially very useful for guiding clinical decisions on instituting appropriate therapy.

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