The diagnosis of hip pain after total hip replacement (THR) represents a highly challenging question that is of increasing concern to orthopedic surgeons. This retrospective study assesses bone scintigraphy with Hybrid SPECT/CT for the diagnosis of painful THR in a selected cohort of patients.
Bone SPECT/CT datasets of 23 patients (mean age 68.9 years) with a painful hip after THR were evaluated. Selection of the patients required an inconclusive radiograph, normal serum levels of inflammatory parameters (CRP and ESR) or a negative aspiration of the hip joint prior to the examination. The standard of reference was established by an interdisciplinary adjudication-panel using all imaging data and clinical follow-up data (>12 month). Pathological and physiological uptake patterns were defined and applied.
The cause of pain in this study group could be determined in 18 out of 23 cases. Reasons were aseptic loosening (n = 5), spine-related (n = 5), heterotopic ossification (n = 5), neuronal (n = 1), septic loosening (n = 1) and periprosthetic stress fracture (n = 1). In (n = 5) cases the cause of hip pain could not be identified. SPECT/CT imaging correctly identified the cause of pain in (n = 13) cases, in which the integrated CT-information led to the correct diagnosis in (n = 4) cases, mainly through superior anatomic correlation. Loosening was correctly assessed in all cases with a definite diagnosis.
SPECT/CT of THA reliably detects or rules out loosening and provides valuable information about heterotopic ossifications. Furthermore differential diagnoses may be detected with a whole-body scan and mechanical or osseous failure is covered by CT-imaging. SPECT/CT holds great potential for imaging-based assessment of painful prostheses.