What is the role of scintigraphy and bone scans in the diagnosis of frostbite?

Updated: Oct 13, 2020
  • Author: Bobak Zonnoor , MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Technetium-99m (99mTc) scintigraphy is sensitive and specific for tissue injury. Some authors recommend using it early in the management of frostbite (48 hours after injury) to aid in directing earlier debridement of nonviable soft tissue. This allows nonviable tissue to be visualized earlier than by clinical examination and thus presumably shortens patient hospitalization. [38, 39] In addition, scintigraphy is useful in assessing the response of damaged tissue to therapy. In some centers, 99mTc scanning is used to identify appropriate patients for treatment with thrombolytics.

Similarly, bone scans, particularly triple-phase bone scans, may help to delineate nonviable bone but should be reserved until microscopic tissue damage has had time to present itself clinically, generally 2-3 weeks post injury. [18]

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