Bone Scan

What is Bone Scan

Bone scan is a test that is used to check your bones for problems. A tracer substance is injected into your blood during the test. The tracer is taken into your bones.

This makes it easier to see your bones when pictures (images) are taken with the type of camera that is used for the test.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

  • Ask your doctor about changing or stopping your normal medicines. This is important if you take diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
  • Do nottake medicines that contain bismuth for 4 days before the test.
  • Do nothave X-ray tests that use barium for 4 days before the test.
  • Do notwear jewelry with metal to the test.
  • Do notdrink very much for 4 hours before the test. At the test, you will need to drink many glasses of water.

PROCEDURE

  • An IV tube will be put into one of your veins.
  • You will lie down on an exam table.
  • The tracer will be injected through the IV tube.
  • Some pictures may be taken right away.
  • Then you will drink 6–8 glasses of water.
  • You may need to wait many hours before more pictures are taken.
  • Then you will get back on the exam table.
  • The camera may move around your body.
  • You may be asked to stay still or to change your position.

The procedure may vary among doctors and hospitals.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • You may have to wait until a specialist checks the pictures to make sure they can be read.
  • More pictures may be taken, if needed.
  • You will be watched to make sure that you do not have a reaction to the test or the tracer.
  • Ask your doctor when and how you will get your results.
  • Return to your normal activities as told by your doctor.

A bone scan is an imaging study of your bones. It is used to identify and diagnose bone problems. You may have this test to check for:

  • Cancer in your bones.
  • A broken or cracked bone.
  • Bone infection.
  • A cause of bone pain.
  • Certain other bone diseases.

For this test, a small amount of a radioactive substance (radiotracer) is injected into your blood. Your bones will absorb the radiotracer for a short time. The radiotracer gives off radioactive energy. This energy can be captured by a type of camera that makes images of your bones (scintigrams). Abnormal bones will take up too much or too little of the radiotracer. This will show up in the images.

Tell a health care provider about:

  • Any allergies you have, including any previous reactions you have had during an exam that used radiotracer.
  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Any blood disorders you have.
  • Any surgeries you have had.
  • Any medical conditions you have.
  • If you are pregnant or you think that you may be pregnant.
  • If you are breastfeeding.

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including:

  • Exposure to radiation (a small amount).
  • Bleeding at the injection site.
  • Infection at the injection site. This is rare.
  • Allergic reaction to the radiotracer. Severe reactions may cause a rash or breathing trouble. These reactions are rare.

What happens before the procedure?

  • Ask your health care provider about changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is especially important if you are taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
  • Do nottake any medicines that contain bismuth for 4 days before the scan.
  • Do nothave X-rays that use barium contrast material for 4 days before the scan.
  • Do notwear metallic jewelry to the scan.
  • Do notdrink very much for 4 hours before the scan. At the beginning of the scan, you will need to drink several glasses of water.

What happens during the procedure?

  • An IV tube will be inserted into one of your veins.
  • You will lie down on an exam table.
  • The radiotracer will be injected through the IV tube. You may feel a cold sensation in your arm.
  • Some pictures (images) may be taken right after the injection.
  • Then you will need to drink 6–8 glasses of water to flush the excess tracer out of your system.
  • You may have to wait several hours before more images are taken.
  • You will get back on the exam table for more images.
    • The camera may move around your body.
    • You may be asked to stay still or to change your position.

The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • You may have to wait until a nuclear medicine specialist (radiologist) checks the images to make sure that they are readable.
  • More images may be taken, if necessary.
  • You will be watched to make sure that you do not have a reaction to the procedure or the injected medicine.
  • It is your responsibility to obtain your test results. Ask your health care provider or the department performing the test when and how you will get your results.
  • Return to your normal activities as directed by your health care provider.
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