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Bone Scintigraphic Findings in Patients with Foot Ulcers and Normal Plain Film Radiographs

Arnold F. Jacobson Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System–Seattle Division, Seattle, WA.

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Joan E. Williams Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System–Seattle Division, Seattle, WA.

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 DPM

A prospective study was performed to examine the performance of bone scintigraphy in the earliest stage of soft-tissue foot ulceration with potential risk for progression to osteomyelitis. Twenty-three podiatry clinic patients with new or recurrent foot ulcers but negative plain film radiographs of the foot underwent 24 (one patient was studied twice) multiphase bone scans (flow, blood pool, and 3- and 24-hour delayed images) that were visually scored for severity of increased uptake on a scale of 0 to 3+, with 0 indicating normal and 3+ indicating severe. Twenty-one scans (88%) showed abnormal uptake on at least one phase, with 17 (71%) having increased bone uptake on late images. Ulcer healing without complications occurred in 20 cases (83%), whereas 4 cases had adverse outcomes, 3 requiring surgical resection for failure to heal and 1 having radiographic progression to frank osteomyelitis. All three patients whose bone scans showed severe abnormal uptake had an adverse clinical outcome. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 93(2): 91-96, 2003)

Corresponding author: Arnold F. Jacobson, MD, PhD, Amersham Health, 101 Carnegie Center, Princeton, NJ 08540.
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