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The Effectiveness of Bone Scan Imaging in Locating Vertebral Fractures

In a recent study, Chinese researchers set out to understand the effectiveness of using bone scan imaging, in contrast to x-rays or CT scans, as a means of gauging pain in patients with osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures (OVCFs). The study, titled “Value of bone scan imaging in determining painful vertebrae of osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures patients with contraindications to MRI,” was published in the August 2012 issue of Orthopaedic Surgery.

The study authors examined data on 23 patients with OVCFs who were diagnosed and treated at the First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University in Suzhou, China. Patients were seen and treated between the months of December 2007 and November 2010. The sample included 18 women and 5 men, ranging in age from 57 to 87 years (the mean age was 69.5).

The patients each were given 3 tests to locate painful vertebrae: an X-ray, a CT scan, and a bone scan. The tests uncovered differences in the painful vertebrae found by the bone scan and those found on the radiological films. Whereas the films showed 33 vertebral fractures, the bone scan imaging showed only 26 painful vertebrae (in 22 of the patients).

Percutaneous kyphoplasty (PKP) was performed on the patients based on the results from the bone scan. The researchers used the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) prior to the operation, after the operation, and during follow-ups as a means of testing the effectiveness of the PKP.

The results showed statistically significant differences in mean VAS and ODI scores before and after the operations, signaling the effectiveness of the bone scan imaging in locating vertebral compression fractures. No significant differences were found in the scores between the post-operative assessments and the follow-ups.

The study authors conclude that their findings demonstrate that bone scan imaging is an effective method for helping physicians locate painful vertebrae in patients with OVCFs who cannot have an MRI.

Updated on: 09/27/12
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