Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ

Question:

A friend of mine had a bone scan for cancer. It showed hot spots where the bone was growing too fast because of tumors. Do you think a test like this could help me? I don't have something as serious as cancer, but I do have chronic tennis elbow that is very disabling. They tell me no tests are needed because there's nothing to see. Is that really true?

Answer:

Bone scintigraphy is a diagnostic study used to look at the distribution of active bone. It helps show blood flow to and through the bone and shows places throughout the skeletal system where the bone is actively metabolizing. The advantage of bone scintigraphy is that changes in bone metabolism show up on the bone scan long before structural changes would appear on an X-ray. Conditions such as fractures, infections, tumors, and arthritis can be recognized with a bone scan long before they can be seen with plain radiographs. In the case of epicondylitis, bone scintigraphy can show whether or not there is a reparative process started. The test results don't explain what is causing the problem. They just show the specific areas of bone where local bone responses are occurring. Although not routinely ordered, bone scintigraphy has a place in the diagnosis of chronic epicondylitis. It does not replace standard X-rays and medical examination. But it offers additional information about the underlying healing or inflammatory process present. This type of advanced imaging shows when there is a healing response in the bone tissue and may help guide patients in making treatment, rehab, and return-to-work decisions. Tuomo T. Pienimäki, MD, PhD, et al. Three-Phase Bone Scintigraphy in Chronic Epicondylitis. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. November 2008. Vol. 89. No. 11. Pp. 2180-2184.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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