Catheter related artifacts on bone scans: report of two cases

Document Type : Case Report


1 Research Institute for Nuclear Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Nuclear Medicine, Imam Khomeini Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Bone scanning using the 99mTc-phosphate analogs is an established diagnostic modality and a commonly requested radioisotope examination for a variety of pathologies involving the skeleton, such as osteomyelitis, bony metastases, and occult fractures. The bone scan is one of the most commonly requested procedure in most nuclear medicine department. The images show areas of increased and decreased activity usually related to the bone turnover. The bone scan is interpreted by evaluating the pattern of radioactive localization in the skeleton and identifying areas of increased uptake (hot spots) or, less frequently, decreased or absent activity (1). Unfortunately, the findings are most often very nonspecific and do not tell us the exact underlying cause of the abnormal activity. A variety of factors may change the normal distribution of bone-seeking radiopharmaceuticals. Although most of the times these areas of abnormal radiotracer activities are due to true pathologic bone states, however, it is not infrequent that they are caused by technical errors such as urinary contamination, nonuniformity of gamma camera, and attenuation of activity by foreign bodies. These artifactual causes warrant careful attention to prevent unnecessary interventions. In certain conditions, nonosseous structures other than the urinary tract are seen on the bone scan. For example, there may be localized muscle uptake, such as myositis ossificans, or localization in a pleural effusion. Such serendipitous findings may constitute welcome diagnostic information (1). On the other hand, soft-tissue uptake may at times hamper interpretation of the study by bringing in artifacts that degrade the quality of the images. Therefore, recognition of patterns of nonbony uptake is important for correct identification of artifacts and accurate interpretation of the scan (1). This paper presents two cases of artifactual causes of odd radiotracer activity in bone scans. In both cases the artifact is at least somewhat related to an indwelling catheter.


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