A Bone Scan is an imaging test used to diagnose bone diseases, any kind of damage to the bone & to determine whether cancer has spread to the bones from another area of the body, such as the prostate or breast.
A Bone Scan safely uses a very small amount of radioactive (dye) substance called a tracer is injected into the veins of your arms to help diagnose problems with your bones. You’ll then be monitored for several hour.
Why Is A Bone Scan Performed?
- Find bone cancer or determine whether cancer from another area, has spread to the bone.
- Help diagnose the cause or location of unexplained bone pain, such as ongoing low back pain.
- Help diagnose broken bones, such as a hip fracture or a stress fracture, not clearly seen on X-ray.
- Find damage to the bones caused by infection or other conditions, such as Paget’s disease.
Bone scans may reveal bone problems associated with the following conditions:
- Avascular necrosis (when bone tissue dies due to a lack of blood supply)
- Bone cancers
- Fibrous Dysplasia (a condition that causes abnormal scar-like tissue to grow in place of normal bone
- Infection involving the bone
- Paget’s disease of the bone (a disease that causes weak, deformed bones)
The Procedure – What can you expect?
- A bone scan is usually done by a nuclear medicine technologist. The scan pictures are usually interpreted by a radiologist or nuclear medicine specialist.
- You will need to remove any jewelry on your body. You will be given a hospital gown during the test.
- Once the tracer is injected, it takes about 2 to 5 hours for the tracer to bind to your bone so that pictures can be taken with a special camera. During this time, you may be asked to drink 4 to 6 glasses of water so your body can wash out the tracer that does not collect in your bones.
- Before the scan you will have to empty your bladder to prevent any radioactive urine from blocking the view of your pelvic bones during the scan.
- There will be a large scanning camera above you. It may move slowly above, below, and around your body, scanning for radiation released by the tracer and producing pictures.
- You may be asked to move into different positions. You need to lie very still during each scan to avoid blurring the pictures.
- A bone scan takes about 1 hour.
When the dye is spread evenly throughout the body.test results are considered normal. This means you don’t have any major bone problems.
When the scan shows darker “hot spots” or lighter “cold spots” in the bones the results are considered abnormal.Hot spots describe places where an excess of dye has collected. Cold spots, on the other hand, are areas where the dye didn’t collect at all. Abnormal results can indicate that you have a bone disorder, such as cancer or arthritis.