What is a bone scan?
Bone scans are used to detect diseases of the bone at the earliest possible time. Bone scans are often more sensitive than X-rays in diagnosing infections, tumors, and fractures.
What does a bone scan entail?
You will receive an injection of a radioactive substance in a vein in your arm. This material travels through the bloodstream, into the soft tissue, eventually localizing in the bones. You will not feel anything from this injection. We may take some images during the injection to evaluate the blood flow to a particular area where you may be having pain.
The bone scan itself will be done three hours after injection. The scan takes 30 - 50 minutes. You will lie on your back on an imaging table. The camera will be positioned above and below you. The camera will scan the entire length of your body, starting at you your head and moving slowly to your feet.
A SPECT (tomographic) study may be done to look at a particular area of your body in detail. This involves an additional 30 minutes of imaging while the camera rotates 360 degrees around you. In some instances X-rays may be needed to clarify bone scan findings.
Is any special preparation required before having a bone scan?
No special preparation is required before the bone scan. You will be asked to drink fluids in the three hours between injection and scan and to empty your bladder frequently. This helps to clear the injected material from your soft tissue and improves the quality of the bone scan.
How will I learn the results?
After the exam, a radiologist will evaluate the images and discuss them with your physician. Your physician will explain the results to you.
How safe is the procedure?
Nuclear medicine procedures are very safe. The radioactive material is quickly cleared from your body. The radiation dose from this test (0.13 rem) is similar to most routine X-ray procedures.