What is the role of bone scans in the workup of metatarsal stress fractures?

Updated: Jan 16, 2019
  • Author: Valerie E Cothran, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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Bone scanning [16, 17]

Technetium-99 (99m Tc) diphosphonate 3-phase bone scanning has traditionally been the imaging modality of choice.

Bone scanning is nearly 100% sensitive for the diagnosis of stress fractures, although the specificity of this modality is considerably lower.

Bone scans can demonstrate stress fractures within 24-72 hours from the onset of symptom(s) (see the image below).

Bone scan of the lower extremities. This image dep Bone scan of the lower extremities. This image depicts a right fifth metatarsal stress fracture.

Differentiation between stress fractures and stress reactions may be determined with a bone scan.

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