The aim of this study was to determine the aetiology of solitary hot spots in the ribs found at bone scintigraphy in patients with known extraskeletal malignancy. A group of 34 patients whose bone scans showed a solitary hot spot in a rib were identified retrospectively over a 4-year period. They all had a known extraskeletal malignancy. Aetiology of the rib hot spot was established in 26 patients based on a review of clinical features, radiographic findings and clinical follow-up. In eight cases it remained indeterminate. In 14 (41%) cases, the rib lesion was malignant in origin, 9 were due to metastasis and 5 due to direct spread from intrapulmonary malignancy. In 12 (35%) cases, it was benign. In the remaining 8 (24%) cases, the aetiology was indeterminate. In the subgroup of 14 hot spots confined to the anterior rib end, 5 (36%) were due to malignancy, 4 (28%) were benign and 5 (36%) were indeterminate. We conclude that solitary hot spots in the ribs of patients with known extraskeletal malignancy undergoing bone scintigraphy are frequently (41%) malignant in origin. This also applies when the hot spot is in the anterior rib end (36% malignant). Thus, such hot spots are far more sinister than previously reported and require careful clinical and radiographic evaluation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging