Bone Scan

Overview

Definition

A bone scan is a test that detects areas of increased or decreased bone activity. These may indicate bone injury or disease. Radioactive isotopes and tracer chemicals are used to highlight problem areas.

Skeletal System
women skeleton
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Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely risk free. If you are planning to have a bone scan, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Allergic reaction to the injected material
  • Infection

Some people worry about the use of radioactive material in a bone scan. The amount of radioactivity is small, though larger than you would receive from common x-ray procedures, like a chest x-ray or dental x-ray. The radioactive material is eliminated from the body within 2-3 days.

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the test.

SymptomsandDiagnosis

Treatments

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)

RESOURCES

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.aaos.org 

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases http://www.niams.nih.gov 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org 

Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care http://www.mhp.gov.on.ca 

References

Holmes EB. Ionizing radiation exposure with medical imaging. Medscape Drugs Disease & Procedures website. Available at: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1464228-overview. Updated April 23, 2015. Accessed February 11, 2016.

Snderlin BR, Raspa R. Common stress fractures. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/1015/p1527.html. Accessed February 11, 2016.