Bone Scan



A bone scan is a test to look for changes in bone activity, such as injury or disease. It uses radioactive isotopes and tracer chemicals to highlight problem areas.

Skeletal System
women skeleton
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Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction to the injected material

Some people worry about the use of radioactive material in a bone scan. The amount of radioactivity is small and passes from the body in 2 to 3 days.



This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Radionuclide Bone Scan; Bone Scintigraphy)


National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 


Canadian Orthopaedic Association 

Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care 


Bone scan. Cancer.Net website. Available at: Accessed September 15, 2020.

Bone scan. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: Accessed September 15, 2020.

Skeletal scintigraphy (bone scan). Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: Accessed September 15, 2020.

Snderlin BR, Raspa R. Common stress fractures. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Accessed September 15, 2020.