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Radionuclide imaging of the painful hip arthroplasty


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Two major complications of hip replacement are loosening and infection. Reliable differentiation between these pathological processes is difficult since both may be accompanied by similar symptoms. Our aim was to assess the diagnostic ability of triple-phase bone scanning (TPBS) and positron-emission tomography (PET) to detect and differentiate these complications in patients with a hip arthroplasty. Both TPBS and PET were performed in 63 patients (92 prostheses). The radiotracer for PET imaging was 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). Image interpretation was performed according to qualitative and quantitative criteria although the final diagnosis was based upon either surgical findings or clinical follow-up.

The sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of PET was 0.94, 0.95 and 0.95 respectively, compared with 0.68, 0.76 and 0.74 for TPBS. We found that an image interpretation based exclusively upon quantitative criteria was inappropriate because of its low selectivity. The histological examination indicated that increased periprosthetic uptake of FDG in patients with aseptic loosening was caused by wear-induced polyethylene particles and the subsequent growth of aggressive granulomatous tissue.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr. P. Reinartz; e-mail: preinartz@compuserve.com

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