What is the role of nuclear medicine scintigraphy in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) imaging?

Updated: Dec 13, 2018
  • Author: Deborah A Baumgarten, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Eugene C Lin, MD  more...
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Nuclear medicine scintigraphy is not used as the primary modality in the evaluation of suspected RCC. However, it can aid in confirming the presence of a pseudomass.

In a patient with a suspected renal mass, nuclear medicine studies help differentiate the mass from a pseudomass (eg, column of Bertin, dromedary hump, fetal lobulation). Scintigraphy with technetium dimethylsuccinic acid demonstrates normal uptake in the region of a pseudomass, whereas a real mass causes a focal photopenic defect.

Bone scanning with technetium methylene diphosphonate is indicated to confirm bony metastatic disease in a patient with RCC and symptoms referable to the skeleton.

In the differentiation of a true mass from a pseudomass, the degree of confidence is high. The specificity of the technique is low in that all types of masses cause photopenic defects if they are large enough.

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