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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 12:46 EDT

Feet First: Molecular Imaging Helps Diagnose Diabetic Foot Infection

June 8, 2010

Study indicates that molecular imaging can help diagnose and determine treatment for a range of foot ailments common in diabetic patients

A study presented at SNM’s 57th Annual Meeting shows that using multiple imaging agents with a hybrid imaging technique can be a valuable tool for accurately diagnosing and determining treatment for a variety of diabetes-associated foot diseases. A common complication from Type 2 diabetes is the decreased ability to heal from even the most minor infections. Due to reduced blood circulation and nerve damage associated with the disease, infections of the feet are a major concern.

“This new imaging technique is proving to be critical for managing diabetes-associated foot infection by providing comprehensive views of both anatomy and specific disease processes in the foot,” said Sherif Heiba, M.D., author of the study and associate professor of radiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY. “By using this molecular imaging technique with dual imaging agents, we were able to better diagnose diabetic foot infections and guide physicians to appropriate treatment for these diabetic patients.”

During the three-year study, researchers used single photon emission tomography and computed tomography (SPECT/CT)””a hybrid molecular imaging technique””to identify foot disease in 23 diabetic patients, who underwent a total of 57 studies. Participants received multiple molecular imaging scans using different imaging agents to evaluate for presence of bone infection, soft tissue infection, a combination of bone and soft tissue infection or other bony diseases. If mid- or hind-foot bone infection was suspected, an additional bone marrow scan was conducted. Results indicated that dual-agent SPECT/CT was highly accurate for diagnosing foot infection. In 84 percent of cases, results of the scan determined the course of treatment or therapy.

Additionally, the scan results led to conservative management or procedures that saved limbs that would have otherwise been lost in the vast majority of cases.

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