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A 32-year-old member asked:

Is it odd that a nuclear bone scan would not detect 2 rib fractures?

3 doctor answers3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Brian Sabb
Sports Medicine 26 years experience
It depends: Bone scan is very sensitive for acute and subacute fractures. However, after a fracture is completely healed, often time years after the injury, bone scan will usually be negative. Best regards and good health...
Dr. Gerald Mandell
Nuclear Medicine 53 years experience
Timing: Bone scan is very sensitive for nondisplaced rib fractures. Age of fracture may determine sensitivity. Early 24-48 hrs after incident fx may not be positive. Increased uptake on bone scan depends on bone repair and metabolism. Fractures can be positive on bone scan for about 6 months or more following fx depending on degree of fx displacement. Completely healed fxs are not visible.
Dr. Raymond Taillefer
Nuclear Medicine 43 years experience
No: Bone scan is a very sensitive way to detect recent bone fractures. However many factors will affect this ability to detect them such as the time interval between the fracture and the scan, the age of the patient, and the location of the fractures. In a young patient, bone metabolism can return to a normal status very quickly. Spect study ( tomography) is also very helpful to detect some lesions.
Last updated Oct 22, 2014

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