Bone Scan

An illustration of a human skeleton.Bone scans are studies that detect local changes in bone metabolism. Because these changes can often be seen before any changes are detected on X-ray, the bone scan is considered more sensitive than

X-rays for the detection of certain fractures, infections, and tumors in the bone.

You will receive an injection of a radioactive substance, usually in your arm. This material travels through the bloodstream, into the soft tissue, and then concentrates in the bones. The injection feels similar to a blood test. There are no side effects from the injection. We may take some images at the time of the injection or we may wait for three hours before we begin taking pictures. You may leave between the first and second sets of images. 

Test Preparation

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.

Exam Procedure

Most of the bone scan images will be done approximately three hours after the injection. The pictures usually take a total of 30-60 minutes. There are a number of ways we can take images, but often the imaging uses a gamma camera positioned above and below you. The camera will scan the entire length of your body. A SPECT (3 dimensional) 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.