How To Prepare
Before the bone scan, tell your doctor
- You are or might be pregnant.
are breast-feeding. You will need to use formula (throw out your breast milk) for 1 to 2 days
after the scan until the radioactive tracer is gone from your
- Within the past 4 days, you have had an X-ray test using
barium contrast material (such as a
barium enema) or have taken a medicine (such as
Pepto-Bismol) that contains bismuth. Barium and bismuth can interfere with test
You may want to limit your fluids for up to 4 hours before
the test, because you will be asked to drink extra fluids after the tracer is injected. You will empty your bladder right before the scan.
You probably will have to wait 1 to 3 hours after the tracer is
injected before your bone scan is done. So you may want to bring something to read or a project to pass the time. For some
types of bone scans, pictures are taken during the tracer injection,
right afterward, and then 3 to 5 hours after the injection.
You may be asked to sign a consent form before the test. Talk to your
doctor about any concerns or questions you have about the test.
To help you understand the
importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
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 your back on a table, and a
large scanning camera will be above you. It may move slowly
above 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.