Twelve patients with sickle cell hemoglobinopathies and arthropathy were studied, using technetium Tc 99m sulfur colloid bone marrow scans. Eight of 12 had decreased marrow radionuclide activity adjacent to painful joints, suggesting obliteration of vessels supplying bone marrow. Four patients without marrow defects on scanning had causes other than infarction for their joint symptoms, viz, small fractures, postinfectious synovitis, degenerative arthritis, and osteochondromas. Roentgenograms never showed bony abnormalities in five patients with marrow infarctions, and, in three others, showed defects several months later than did the marrow scans. Bone marrow scans offer a sensitive and early diagnostic aid in sickle cell hemoglobinopathies with arthropathy.
(Arch Intern Med 136:436-440, 1976)