Skeletal surveys assess potential bone damage or bone deterioration caused by multiple myeloma.
A skeletal survey is comprised of various x-rays of all the bones in the body. Typically, this procedure involves radiographs of the skull, spine, humeri, ribs, pelvis and femora. Skeletal surveys are very common for diagnosing multiple myeloma and are the preferred initial imaging examination for myeloma. These tests are so important because bone lesions caused by multiple myeloma are visible with x-rays. Additionally, these surveys are not only important for diagnosing multiple myeloma, but also in assessing response, and pre-empting complications that may arise from the disease.
Myeloma patients will have tumor deposits that appear as bone lesions. Since myeloma is a disease typically found in older patients though, it can be hard to distinguish these lesions from other bone conditions such as osteoporosis. At least 30% cancellous bone loss is required to make a multiple myeloma diagnosis from a skeletal survey.