What is the role of bone scan in the evaluation of rib fracture?

Updated: Jun 13, 2017
  • Author: Sarah L Melendez, MD; Chief Editor: Trevor John Mills, MD, MPH  more...
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A bone scan of the chest wall is the preferred instrument to diagnose rib stress fractures early in the pathologic process. Such fractures typically are not visible on plain films of the chest until very late in their healing, when they develop a visible callus.

Normal costochondral uptake in a child may be intense enough to suggest rib stippling when viewed from a posterior projection.

Any disease or lesion of a rib that results in increased bone turnover may result in positive findings in the ribs.

False-negative results may occur in patients who have recently received iron dextran injections as high levels of iron in the bone marrow interfere with the normal uptake of bone.

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