Radiographic imaging in osteomyelitis: the role of plain radiography, computed tomography, ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging, and scintigraphy.
The diagnostic imaging of osteomyelitis can require the combination of diverse imaging techniques for an accurate diagnosis. Conventional radiography should always be the first imaging modality to start with, as it provides an overview of the anatomy and the pathologic conditions of the bone and soft tissues of the region of interest. Sonography is most useful in the diagnosis of fluid collections, periosteal involvement, and surrounding soft tissue abnormalities and may provide guidance for diagnostic or therapeutic aspiration, drainage, or tissue biopsy. Computed tomography scan can be a useful method to detect early osseous erosion and to document the presence of sequestrum, foreign body, or gas formation but generally is less sensitive than other modalities for the detection of bone infection. Magnetic resonance imaging is the most sensitive and most specific imaging modality for the detection of osteomyelitis and provides superb anatomic detail and more accurate information of the extent of the infectious process and soft tissues involved. Nuclear medicine imaging is particularly useful in identifying multifocal osseous involvement.
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