Frequency of discordance between facet joint activity on technetium Tc99m methylene diphosphonate SPECT/CT and selection for percutaneous treatment at a large multispecialty institution

Vance T. Lehman, R. C. Murphy, T. J. Kaufmann, F. E. Diehn, N. S. Murthy, J. T. Wald, K. R. Thielen, K. K. Amrami, J. M. Morris, T. P. Maus

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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The clinical impact of facet joint bone scan activity is not fully understood. The hypothesis of this study is that facet joints targeted for percutaneous treatment in clinical practice differ from those with reported activity on technetium Tc99m methylene diphosphonate SPECT/CT. MATERIALS AND METHODS: All patients with a technetium Tc99m methylene diphosphonate SPECT/CT scan of the lumbar or cervical spine who underwent subsequent percutaneous facet joint steroid injection or comparative medial branch blocks at our institution between January 1, 2008, and February 19, 2013, were identified. Facet joints with increased activity were compared with those treated. A chart review characterized the clinical reasons for treatment discrepancies. RESULTS: Of 74 patients meeting inclusion criteria, 52 (70%) had discrepant imaging findings and treatment selection of at least 1 facet joint, whereas 34 patients (46%) had a side (right vs left) discrepancy. Only 92 (70%) of 132 facet joints with increased activity were treated, whereas 103 (53%) of 195 of treated facet joints did not have increased activity. The most commonly documented clinical rationale for discrepancy was facet joint activity that was not thought to correlate with clinical findings, cited in 18 (35%) of 52 patients. CONCLUSIONS: Facet joints undergoing targeted percutaneous treatment were frequently discordant with those demonstrating increased technetium Tc99m methylene diphosphonate activity identified by SPECT/CT at our institution, in many cases because the active facet joint(s) did not correlate with clinical findings. Further prospective double-blinded investigations of the clinical significance of facet joint activity by use of technetium Tc99m methylene diphosphonate SPECT/CT and comparative medial branch blocks are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-614
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology

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