Practice Patterns and Outcomes of Equivocal Bone Scans for Patients With Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer: Results From Search

Author Type(s)


Document Type


Publication Date

July 2019

Journal Title

Asian Journal of Urology


Objective: To review follow-up imaging after equivocal bone scans in men with castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and examine the characteristics of equivocal bone scans that are associated with positive follow-up imaging. Methods: We identified 639 men from five Veterans Affairs Hospitals with a technetium-99m bone scan after CRPC diagnosis, of whom 99 (15%) had equivocal scans. Men with equivocal scans were segregated into "high-risk" and "low-risk" subcategories based upon wording in the bone scan report. All follow-up imaging (bone scans, computed tomography [CT], magnetic resonance imaging [MRI], and X-rays) in the 3 months after the equivocal scan were reviewed. Variables were compared between patients with a positive vs. negative follow-up imaging after an equivocal bone scan. Results: Of 99 men with an equivocal bone scan, 43 (43%) received at least one follow-up imaging test, including 32/82 (39%) with low-risk scans and 11/17 (65%) with high-risk scans (p = 0.052). Of follow-up tests, 67% were negative, 14% were equivocal, and 19% were positive. Among those who underwent follow-up imaging, 3/32 (9%) low-risk men had metastases vs. 5/11 (45%) high-risk men (p = 0.015). Conclusion: While 19% of all men who received follow-up imaging had positive follow-up imaging, only 9% of those with a low-risk equivocal bone scan had metastases versus 45% of those with high-risk. These preliminary findings, if confirmed in larger studies, suggest follow-up imaging tests for low-risk equivocal scans can be delayed while high-risk equivocal scans should receive follow-up imaging.