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Radiology. 2010 Apr;255(1):173-81. doi: 10.1148/radiol.09091368.

Skeletal trauma in child abuse: detection with 18F-NaF PET.

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Department of Radiology, Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, 300 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



To evaluate the sensitivity of fluorine 18-labeled sodium fluoride ((18)F-NaF) positron emission tomography (PET) for assessment of skeletal trauma in pediatric patients suspected of having been abused and to compare the diagnostic performance of this examination with that of high-detail skeletal survey.


The institutional review board approved this retrospective study and determined that it was in accordance with regulations of HIPAA privacy rule 45, Code of Federal Regulations parts 160 and 164, and that the criteria for waived patient authorization were met. The baseline skeletal survey and PET images obtained in 22 patients younger than 2 years between September 2007 and January 2009 were reviewed. Fourteen patients also underwent follow-up skeletal survey. The PET images were interpreted by two pediatric nuclear medicine physicians. The initially obtained skeletal survey images were interpreted blindly by a pediatric radiologist. A second pediatric radiologist interpreted the follow-up skeletal survey images in conjunction with the baseline survey images and rendered a final interpretation for the 14 patients in whom both baseline and follow-up skeletal survey data were available, which served as the reference standard.


A total of 156 fractures were detected at baseline skeletal survey, and 200 fractures were detected at PET. Compared with the reference standard (findings in the 14 patients who underwent baseline and follow-up skeletal survey), PET had sensitivities of 85% for the detection of all fractures, 92% for the detection of thoracic fractures (ribs, sternum, clavicle, and scapula), 93% for the detection of posterior rib fractures, and 67% for the detection of classic metaphyseal lesions (CMLs), defined as a series of microfractures across the metaphysis. Compared with the reference standard, baseline skeletal survey had sensitivities of 72% for the detection of all fractures, 68% for the detection of thoracic fractures, 73% for the detection of posterior rib fractures, and 80% for the detection of CMLs.


(18)F-NaF PET had greater sensitivity in the overall detection of fractures related to child abuse than did baseline skeletal survey. (18)F-NaF PET was superior in the detection of rib fractures in particular. Thus, (18)F-NaF PET is an attractive choice for evaluation of suspected child abuse, an application in which high sensitivity is desirable. Because of the lower sensitivity of PET in the detection of CMLs, a characteristic fracture in child abuse, initial radiographic evaluation remains necessary.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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