Is SPECT/CT a useful imaging tool for the identification of knee cartilage lesions: a systematic review (2024)

Type of publication:
Journal article

Rix L.; *Tushingham S.; Wright K.T.; Snow M.

Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. Conference: 2024 OARSI World Congress on Osteoarthritis. Vienna Austria. 32(Supplement 1) (pp S353), 2024. Date of Publication: April 2024.

Purpose (the aim of the study): Anterior knee pain (AKP) is a common orthopaedic pain which affects individuals from the young and active to the elderly and sedentary. Though multifactorial in nature, the disorder is believed to occur through muscular imbalance, structural malalignment, overuse, and trauma. Subsequently, as time passes, this can cause damage to the cartilage, resulting in chondral lesions. Currently, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is defined as the gold standard imaging tool for chondral lesion detection. However, MRI mis-diagnoses around 20% of chondral lesions, and therefore is not a highly sensitive tool. An emerging imaging tool is single-photon emission computerised tomography with conventional computer tomography (SPECT/CT). Important diagnostic information may be provided from SPECT/CT for AKP patients who exhibit absence of structural change on other imaging modalities, and thus holds clinical value for the detection of knee chondral lesions. This review systematically assessed the utility of SPECT/CT as an imaging modality for knee pain, and its ability to diagnose chondral lesions for those patients who present clinically with knee pain. Method(s): Under PRISMA guidelines, a systematic search of databases was conducted in PubMed, Science Direct, and Web of Knowledge, CINAHL, AMED, Ovid Emcare and Embase. Inclusion criteria comprised of any English language article which focused on the diagnostic value of SPECT/CT for knee chondral lesions and knee pain. Further, any articles which focused on animal or cadaver studies, comparator technique other than SPECT/CT or patients with a pathology other than knee chondral lesions were excluded from the study. Articles that were deemed relevant underwent QUADAS-2 bias assessment. Result(s): After database search, manuscripts were identified, and 11,982 titles were screened for relevance. Seven studies were identified as suitable for inclusion based on eligibility criteria and were subjected to QUADAS-2 assessment. All 7 articles scored low for bias. Two papers found that ICRS score at intraoperative assessment correlated with SPECT/CT tracer uptake. Two studies concluded that whilst SPECT/CT tracer uptake significantly correlated with MRI, for some patients SPECT/CT identified more chondral lesions than MRI. Two papers compared bone scintigraphy (BS) to SPECT/CT, and found that SPECT/CT was able to identify, localise and characterise more chondral lesions in the knee than BS. Conclusion(s): The evidence found in this review suggests that SPECT/CT may be a useful imaging tool to detect and localise cartilage lesions of the knee. Particularly in those patients with conflicting cases whereby there is an absence of lesions on other imaging modalities, or a lack of resemblance with patients' symptoms. More studies would be of value to strengthen the conclusions of this review.