Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2012; 16 (2 Suppl): 20-25

The role of nuclear medicine in the diagnosis of spondylodiscitis

G. Treglia, C. Focacci, C. Caldarella, M.V. Mattoli, M. Salsano, S. Taralli, A. Giordano

Institute of Nuclear Medicine, School of Medicine, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome (Italy)


Background: The diagnosis of spondylodiscitis can be difficult, because the patients history, subjective symptoms and physical findings are often inconclusive, particularly in the early stages.

Aim: To perform an overview on the role of nuclear medicine procedures with single photon emission tomography (SPET) and positron emission tomography (PET) tracers in the diagnosis of spondylodiscitis.

Materials and Methods: A literature review about bone scintigraphy, Gallium-67-citrate scintigraphy, labeled leukocytes scintigraphy and PET was performed. Main findings of the literature were reported.

Results: Bone scintigraphy is a sensitive and widely available nuclear medicine technique, but it is characterized by low specificity. Gallium-67-citrate scintigraphy is often used as a complement to bone scintigraphy to enhance the specificity of the study and to detect extra-osseous sites of infection. Labeled leukocytes scintigraphy is not a useful method in the diagnosis of spondylodiscitis. Fluorine-18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography is a sensitive method and could potentially be useful in the diagnosis of spondylodiscitis and in the evaluation of treatment response. Nevertheless, scientific literature about this topic is still limited.

Conclusions: Overall, nuclear medicine procedures play a useful role in the diagnosis of spondylodiscitis identifying functional abnormalities which precede morphological changes. Therefore, nuclear medicine procedures may complement or integrate morphological imaging findings in patients with suspected spondylodiscitis.

Corresponding Author: Giorgio Treglia, MD; e-mail: giorgiomednuc@libero.it

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To cite this article

G. Treglia, C. Focacci, C. Caldarella, M.V. Mattoli, M. Salsano, S. Taralli, A. Giordano
The role of nuclear medicine in the diagnosis of spondylodiscitis

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci
Year: 2012
Vol. 16 - N. 2 Suppl
Pages: 20-25