Efficacy of three-phase bone scans in evaluating diabetic foot ulcers

Peter R. Jay, James D. Michelson, Mark S. Mizel, Donna Magid, Tung Le

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24 Scopus citations


To evaluate the utility of bone scans in determining the treatment of diabetic patients with foot ulcers, a retrospective study was conducted. Medical records were reviewed for clinical signs of infection, laboratory data, and the radiologists' interpretations of imaging studies. During the study period, 34 bone scans were obtained by the treating physicians to evaluate diabetic foot ulcers. Among these, 22 of 34 bone scans were markedly confirmatory of being 'consistent with osteomyelitis,' 8 of 34 were moderately confirmatory ('indeterminate with regard to osteomyelitis'), and 4 of 34 were not confirmatory ('not consistent with osteomyelitis'). Of the 22 patients in the markedly confirmatory group, eight patients with clinical findings of uncontrolled infection or gangrene were treated with partial or complete amputation, whereas all others (14 patients) were treated with local wound care ± intravenous antibiotics. Among the eight bone scans interpreted as indeterminate, three patients required partial or complete amputation, whereas the other five patients were managed with local wound care. Of the four patients with nonconfirmatory bone scans, two patients had evidence of dry gangrene and required amputation, whereas the other two patients did not have clinical evidence of infection or gangrene and were treated with local wound care. There was no significant difference in the amputation rate for patients with confirmatory, indeterminate, or nonconfirmatory bone scans for osteomyelitis (36%, 37%, and 50%, respectively) (P > 0.5). Therefore, the authors concluded that the ultimate treatment should be based on clinical indicators of the presence of uncontrolled infection or gangrene rather than on bone scan findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-355
Number of pages9
JournalFoot and Ankle International
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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