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Radioisotope bone scans in the preoperative staging of hepatopancreatobiliary cancer. BJS 2005; 92: 203-207.

Published: 1st November 2004

Authors: H. Sheth, S. S. Javed, A. J. W. Hilson, J. R. Buscombe, B. R. Davidson


The aim of the study was to determine the value of radioisotope bone scans in the preoperative staging of patients with hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB) cancer.


Bone scanning was performed as part of a routine staging protocol in 402 consecutive patients with HPB cancer over a period of 5 years. Patients with positive bone scans underwent coned radiography, computed tomography with review on bone windows, or a bone biopsy. Bone scans were reviewed along with staging investigations, surgical and histological findings. Patients were followed for a minimum of 6 months.


There were 171 patients with colorectal liver metastases, 106 with suspected pancreatic cancer, 47 with hepatocellular cancer, 52 with gallbladder cancer or cholangiocarcinoma, and 26 with other types of HPB cancer. Bone scans were negative in 377 patients (93·8 per cent) and positive in 25 patients (6·2 per cent). Of the 25 positive scans, 16 were falsely positive as a result of degenerative bone disease. Of nine patients with a true‐positive bone scan, four had locally irresectable disease and four distant metastases. In only one patient did the bone scan result alone influence the decision to resect the HPB cancer. Overall sensitivity was 100 per cent, specificity 95·9 per cent, positive predictive value 36·0 per cent and negative predictive value 100 per cent.


Bone scanning should not be included in the routine staging protocol for HPB cancer. Copyright © 2004 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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