A bone scan involves injecting a small amount of a radioactive substance that attaches to the bones.This scan helps detect, or further examine, bone and joint problems sooner than other imaging studies. Your doctor may order it to look for a variety of bone problems, such as:
- Bone metastases (cancer in the bone that has spread from a primary cancer)
- Fractures and stress fractures
- Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
- Areas of abnormal joint activity in inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY EXAM?
- Please let your technologist know if you are claustrophobic prior to the start of the exam.
- Please notify your technologist if there is a chance you may be pregnant, or if you are nursing. If you are pregnant, the exam will need to be postponed. If you are uncertain, a blood test will be required to confirm you are not pregnant prior to starting the exam. This may delay or postpone your appointment if not obtained in advance. If you are nursing, you will be given further instructions regarding breastfeeding.
- It’s important to keep hydrated. You can eat and drink normally, both before the exam and between your first and second appointments.
- Please let your physician or our team know if you have recently had a bismuth-containing medication such as Pepto-Bismol or if you have recently taken barium contrast material four days prior to your study, as these agents may affect the bone scan results.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY EXAM?
- Your exam involves two separate appointments booked on the same day.
- The first appointment will take approximately 15 minutes.
- During the first appointment, we will inject a radioactive material (radiopharmaceutical) into a vein in your arm.
- Your technologist may take a few images while injecting, or immediately following the injection of, the radiopharmaceutical.
- For the images, you will be asked to lie on your back on the imaging bed and the gamma camera will be placed over your body.
- After the injection, the technologist will remind you to drink fluids (e.g., water, juice, pop, coffee or tea) to make sure you are hydrated. You can urinate as needed, since this can help with the appearance of the images. Urinating is also an important way for your body to remove the radiopharmaceutical.
- You are free to go about your daily activities in the waiting period between the first and second appointments; there are no restrictions. This time is needed for the injected radiopharmaceutical to attach to your bones.
- The second appointment is usually 2-5 hours after the first appointment. Your technologist will let you know when to return for the second appointment.
- During the second appointment, there is no injection; only imaging will be performed. This will take approximately 30 minutes.
- During the imaging, please hold as still as you can. You may breathe normally, but movement can blur the images and make them more difficult to interpret. Please let your technologist know if you are not comfortably positioned on the bed.
- The scan is painless and you will be able to talk to your technologist throughout the procedure.
- SPECIAL NOTE: Your doctor may have requested a specific imaging type called “SPECT/CT.” Click here to read more about this exam.
Additional X-rays may be performed to help the radiologist with their interpretation of your bone scan. If this is required, they will be done after the bone scan is finished and may take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
WHEN WILL I GET MY RESULTS?
We do our best to have the specialized nuclear medicine physician interpret the data and forward the results to your doctor by the next business day.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
This exam is covered under your Alberta Health Care Plan. It is not currently offered at our Saskatchewan clinic.