A bone scan is a test that detects areas of increased or decreased bone activity. These may indicate bone injury or disease. Radioactive isotopes and tracer chemicals are used to highlight problem areas.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a bone scan, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Allergic reaction to the injected material
Some people worry about the use of slightly radioactive material. The amount of radioactivity is very small. It is eliminated from the body within 2-3 days.
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the test.
What to Expect
Prior to Test
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.
Three hours before the scan, you will receive an injection of radioactive tracer chemicals. You should drink plenty of fluids between the time of the injection and the scan. You will also be asked to empty your bladder before the scan.
Description of the Test
You will lie on your back on an imaging table. A camera above and below the table will slowly scan you. You may be asked to move into various positions as the scan is done. It is important to lie still when not told to move. The camera will be able to detect small amounts of radioactivity in the injected material. This will allow the doctor to see areas where there may be bone injury or disease.
The injection site will be checked for redness and swelling.
How Long Will It Take?
About 20-60 minutes
Will It Hurt?
No, the test is painless, except for the mild discomfort of the injection.
If your bone tissue is healthy, your scan will show that the chemical has spread evenly to all of your bones. If there is an area of disease, darker or lighter areas (hot or cold spots) will be evident on the scan. These will show the areas with abnormally active bone breakdown or repair.
Depending on your results, you may need further tests, such as:
X-ray—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones
CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
MRI scan—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you have questions about the test, your condition, or your test results.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a