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OBJECTIVES: Scaphoid injuries occult on plain radiography often require further imaging for definitive diagnosis. We investigate the utility of dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) for the detection of acute bone marrow oedema and fracture of scaphoid compared to MRI. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty patients who presented acutely (without prior injury) to the emergency department with clinically suspected occult scaphoid fracture and had MRI of the wrist were prospectively recruited to have DECT (GE Revolution CT). Material decomposition images of the water-calcium base pair were generated and assessed in conjunction with the monochromatic images to permit correlation of marrow signal changes with any cortical disruption for fracture confirmation. The assessment was performed by two musculoskeletal radiologists blinded from MRI results. The statistical difference of MRI and reviewers' detection of acute bone oedema (1 = present, 0 = absent) was performed using the Friedman test (SPSS v.16). RESULTS: MRI showed acute scaphoid fracture and/or bone marrow oedema in 14/20 patients of which 6 also had cortical disruption. On DECT, reviewer A identified oedema in 13 and cortical disruption in 10 patients while reviewer B identified oedema in 10 and cortical disruption in seven of the 14 MRI positive patients. No statistically significant difference in oedema detection on MRI and reviewers of DECT (p value 0.61) but DECT was more sensitive at detecting cortical disruption. CONCLUSION: DECT has the capability to detect acute scaphoid oedema in addition to cortical fractures. However, compared to MRI, DECT has lower contrast resolution and less sensitive in the detection of mild oedema. KEY POINTS: • Dual-energy CT is able to detect acute traumatic scaphoid marrow oedema. • Dual-energy CT has greater detection rate of scaphoid fractures than MRI. • Dual-energy CT is an alternative to MRI for occult scaphoid injury.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Radiol

Publication Date





3610 - 3615


Bone marrow, Edema, Radiography, Scaphoid bone, Wrist injuries, Bone Marrow Diseases, Fractures, Bone, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Scaphoid Bone, Sensitivity and Specificity, Tomography, X-Ray Computed