Original Research| Volume 49, ISSUE 6, P529-536, November 2010

The Optimized Evaluation of Diabetic Foot Infection by Dual Isotope SPECT/CT Imaging Protocol

Published:September 20, 2010DOI:


      Sequential Tc-99m hydroxymethylene-diphosphonate (HDP) 3-phase bone (BS) and In-111 leukocyte scanning (WBCS) have been frequently used to evaluate the diabetic foot, as nonosteomyelitis BS uptake is repeatedly observed and osteomyelitis (OM) in WBCS is often uncertain without BS correlation. Additionally, both modalities are limited in lesion localization because of low resolution and lack of anatomic details. We investigated a method that combined BS/WBCS, and if needed, WBCS/bone marrow scanning (BMS) using SPECT/CT to accurately diagnose/localize infection in a practical protocol. Blood flow/pool images were obtained followed by WBC reinjection and next day dual isotope (DI) BS/WBCS planar and SPECT/CT. BMS/WBCS SPECT/CT (step 2 DI) was obtained on the following day when images were suspicious for mid/hindfoot OM. Diagnosis accuracy and confidence were judged for the various imaging combinations. Diagnosis was classified as OM, soft tissue infection (STI), both OM/STI, and other/no bony pathology by microbiology/pathology or follow-up. Distinction between various diagnostic categories and overall OM diagnostic accuracy in 213 patients were higher for DI than WBCS or BS alone, and for DI SPECT/CT than DI planar or SPECT only. Diagnostic confidence/lesion site was significantly higher for DI SPECT/CT than other comparative imaging methods. In a group of 97 patients with confirmed microbiologic/pathologic diagnosis, similar results were attained. Step 2 DI SPECT/CT performed in 67 patients further improved diagnostic accuracy/confidence. DI SPECT/CT is a highly accurate modality that considerably improves detection and discrimination of STI and OM while providing precise anatomic localization in the diabetic foot. This combined imaging technique promises to beneficially impact diabetic patient care.


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