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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1989 May;152(5):1021-7.

Detection of osteomyelitis at fracture nonunion sites: comparison of two scintigraphic methods.

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Department of Radiology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City 52242.


Forty-nine patients with 50 fracture nonunions 4-48 months after injury underwent technetium-99m methylene diphosphonate (99mTc-MDP) scintigraphy on day 1, combined 99mTc-MDP and indium-111 leukocyte (111In-WBC) scintigraphy on day 2, and gallium-67 (67Ga) scintigraphy on day 3. The results were compared to evaluate the relative abilities of these scintigraphic techniques to detect osteomyelitis. Nine patients had clinical evidence of infection at the time of imaging, and 40 patients (41 fractures) did not. Open-biopsy cultures were performed at all fracture sites and were positive at 21 (42%) of the 50 sites. Combined 99mTc-MDP/111In-WBC images were interpreted with the use of two criteria. A positive study by the first criterion required 111In-WBC localization in the region of the nonunion fracture. A positive study by the second criterion required 111In-WBC localization in bone at the fracture site. The first criterion yielded a sensitivity of 84%, specificity of 72%, and accuracy of 74%; the specificity improved to 97% with an accuracy of 88% when the second criterion was used. Ten (25%) of the 40 patients thought not to have osteomyelitis by clinical criteria at the time of imaging had true-positive 99mTc-MDP/111In-WBC studies by biopsy culture results. Gallium-67 studies were interpreted as nondiagnostic if localization of radioisotope at fracture sites was equal to that with 99mTc-MDP, positive if 67Ga localization was greater than that of 99mTc-MDP, and negative if it was less than that of 99mTc-MDP. Twenty-one 67Ga studies were interpreted as nondiagnostic; 11 (52%) of the 21 had culture-positive fracture sites. The accuracy of 67Ga/99mTc-MDP imaging was 39%. Combined 99mTc-MDP/111In-WBC imaging is useful in the detection of osteomyelitis at fracture nonunion sites and improves the specificity of 111In-WBC imaging by differentiating inflammation/infection in adjacent soft tissue from osteomyelitis at the fracture site. Gallium-67 with 99mTc-MDP imaging is not sufficiently reliable in this clinical setting to be useful as an indicator for osteomyelitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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