Bone Scan

What is it?

Not to be confused with a bone density scan, a bone scan is a nuclear test in which a radioactive substance is injected into the body.

What is the purpose?

It gives the doctor a little more detailed look at the bones and
joints than a traditional x-ray.

Is there any special preparation?

There are usually no special pre-test instructions.

How is it done?

A technician will inject a small amount of radioactive dye into a vein. You will be allowed to leave and return 3-4 hours later. You will lie flat on a table while a machine passes over you. The images will show how the dye is absorbed by your bones, normal areas will be gray while darker areas indicate a problem.

What happens afterwards?

You may be instructed to drink extra fluids for a few hours to flush the dye out of your body.

What are the risks of this procedure?

In general, there is no real risk involved. In rare instances, you may have an allergic reaction to the liquid injected. Report any itching or rash immediately.

Does it hurt?

The test itself is not painful, but some people may find lying still uncomfortable. There will be some pain when the dye is injected, but it is mild and over quickly.


Depending on what body parts are being looked at, the test may take 30-90 minutes.

For more information:

Gate – Bone Scan
Medicine Scans

Yale University School of Medicine, Patient’s Guide to Medical Tests
Adult Health Advisor -Bone Scan, Copyright ? Clinical Reference Systems 1999