Bone scintigraphy is based on the fixation in the bony structures of phosphate molecules tagged with technetium-99m. The radiopharmaceutical is injected intravenously and no special preparation is needed before the patient examination. The technetium-99m tracer travels through the blood and its uptake by the skeleton is maximal after three hours, which imposes an equivalent waiting period between injection and passage under the gamma camera.
Several types of diagnostics are available :
- Scintigraphic planar images focused on a specific region (the gamma camera is immobilized for several minutes over the region to examine, the knee for example);
- Whole body scintigraphic images, to visualize the tracer fixation throughout the skeleton (the search for bone metastases, for example);
- A tomography exam completing planar images and increasing diagnosis accuracy;
- A complete examination in three phases: study of the vascularization (scintigraphic images performed just after injection) followed by a tissue study and finally a bone scan.
According to the type of review conducted, the tracer fixation is proportional to the vascularization or bone metabolic activity.
Indications for bone scintigraphy:
- Search for bone metastases
- Assesment of primary bone tumor
- Early diagnosis of osteomyelitis
- Stress fracture
- metabolic disease
- painful extremities
- Evaluation of joint prothesis
- articular pathologies (study of the causes and effects of disease or injury).
Radiopharmaceuticals: The Radiopharmaceuticals used are complex molecules tagged with technetium: 99mTc - HEDP, 99mTc - MDP and 99mTc - HMDP.
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