We evaluated 100 consecutive patients with a suspected scaphoid fracture but without evidence of a fracture on plain radiographs using MRI within 24 hours of injury, and bone scintigraphy three to five days after injury. The reference standard for a true radiologically-occult scaphoid fracture was either a diagnosis of fracture on both MRI and bone scintigraphy, or, in the case of discrepancy, clinical and/or radiological evidence of a fracture. MRI revealed 16 scaphoid and 24 other fractures. Bone scintigraphy showed 28 scaphoid and 40 other fractures. According to the reference standard there were 20 scaphoid fractures. MRI was falsely negative for scaphoid fracture in four patients and bone scintigraphy falsely positive in eight. MRI had a sensitivity of 80% and a specificity of 100%. Bone scintigraphy had a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 90%. This study did not confirm that early, short-sequence MRI was superior to bone scintigraphy for the diagnosis of a suspected scaphoid fracture. Bone scintigraphy remains a highly sensitive and reasonably specific investigation for the diagnosis of an occult scaphoid fracture.
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