Clinical applications of SPECT/CT in imaging the extremities

  • Martin W. Huellner
  • Klaus Strobel
Review Article


Today, SPECT/CT is increasingly used and available in the majority of larger nuclear medicine departments. Several applications of SPECT/CT as a supplement to or replacement for traditional conventional bone scintigraphy have been established in recent years. SPECT/CT of the upper and lower extremities is valuable in many conditions with abnormal bone turnover due to trauma, inflammation, infection, degeneration or tumour. SPECT/CT is often used in patients if conventional radiographs are insufficient, if MR image quality is impaired due to metal implants or in patients with contraindications to MR. In complex joints such as those in the foot and wrist, SPECT/CT provides exact anatomical correlation of pathological uptake. In many cases SPECT increases the sensitivity and CT the specificity of the study, increasing confidence in the final diagnosis compared to planar images alone. The CT protocol should be adapted to the clinical question and may vary from very low-dose (e.g. attenuation correction only), to low-dose for anatomical correlation, to normal-dose protocols enabling precise anatomical resolution. The aim of this review is to give an overview of SPECT/CT imaging of the extremities with a focus on the hand and wrist, knee and foot, and for evaluation of patients after joint arthroplasty.


SPECT/CT Musculoskeletal imaging Prostheses Arthroplasty Knee Hip Shoulder Elbow Hand/wrist Foot Bone 



We express our gratitude to Geoffrey Warnock, PhD, for his valuable help preparing the manuscript.

Conflicts interest

Klaus Strobel received an ISS grant from Philips Healthcare.

Author’s contributions

K.S. and M.H. participated in the design and coordination of the review and drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Radiology, Division of Nuclear MedicineUniversity Hospital ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Nuclear Medicine and RadiologyLucerne Cantonal HospitalLucerneSwitzerland

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