How It Is Done
A bone scan is usually done by a
nuclear medicine technologist. The scan pictures are usually interpreted by a
nuclear medicine specialist.
need to remove any jewelry that might get in the way of the scan. You may need to
take off all or most of your clothes. You will be given a cloth or paper covering to use during the
Your arm will be cleaned where the
tracer will be injected. A small amount of the tracer
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. Just before the scan begins, you will probably be asked to empty your
bladder to prevent any radioactive urine from blocking the view of your pelvic
bones during the scan.
You will lie on a table, with 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. The camera does not
produce any radiation.
You may be asked to move into different
positions. You need to
lie very still during each scan to avoid blurring the pictures.
bone scan takes about 1 hour.
How It Feels
You may feel nothing at all from the
needle when the tracer is injected, or you may feel a brief sting or
pinch. The bone scan is usually
painless. You may find it hard to remain still during the scan. Ask for a
pillow or blanket to make yourself as comfortable as possible before the scan
The test may be uncomfortable if you are having joint or
bone pain. Try to relax by breathing slowly and deeply.
Allergic reactions to the tracer are very rare. Your body will get rid of most of the tracer through your urine or stool within a day. Be
sure to flush the toilet right away and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and
water. The amount of radiation is so small that it is not a risk for people to
come in contact with you after the test.
You may have some
soreness or swelling where the needle went in. These symptoms can
usually be relieved by applying moist, warm compresses to your arm.
There is always a slight risk of damage to cells or tissue from being
exposed to any radiation, including the low level of radiation released by the tracer in this test.