A bone scan is a Nuclear Medicine test using a small amount of radioactive tracer (radiopharmaceutical) that is injected into the arm to image the function of the skeletal system. It can be used to diagnose bone disorders, fractures, arthritis and degeneration, infection and cancer.
The scan may be of one or more body parts, or the whole body.
What happens during a bone scan?
A. Before your scan
What to bring
A referral from your doctor or medical specialist, and an appointment is required to this examination
Any relevant previous imaging
Your Medicare cards and concession cards
No preparation is required, however you will be asked to increase your fluid intake following the injection.
However, If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or caring for a small child on the appointment day, please notify us in advance to receive special instructions.
B. During your Bone Scan
When you attend your appointment at Envision Medical Imaging, you will be asked a few safety questions, remove any jewellery, watches etc and then change into an examination gown.
After explaining the procedure to you, the Nuclear Medicine Technologist will prepare and inject the tracer into an arm vein. This may happen while you are positioned under the gamma camera to obtain initial pictures of the blood supply to the area.
The gamma camera will in some procedures rotate around the body while acquiring images (SPECT). You will experience no unusual sensations or discomfort from the scanning process.
The first part of the study takes 15-20 minutes. We will then ask you to leave and resume your normal activities, returning two to five hours later, at a specified time, for delayed imaging. The exact timing depends on several factors, and will be advised on the day.
The later images are similar to the first (there are no further injections), but take from 20 – 60 minutes to complete, depending on the area to be covered. These show the uptake of tracer in the bones, with abnormal areas showing as an increased accumulation.
The gamma images may be combined with a low dose CT scan done at the same time on the same scanner. This combination of SPECT/CT improves the accuracy of the information obtained, and adds only a few minutes to the procedure time.
Risks and side effects
Nuclear medicine examinations are considered safe with almost no reported adverse reactions attributable to the radiopharmaceuticals used in these examinations.
Nuclear Medicine studies require very small doses of gamma radiation and are only performed where the benefits of the examination are deemed to outweigh any potential risks. At Envision Medical Imaging, you can be assured that using that latest technology and with the staff trained in radiation reduction techniques, radiation doses are kept as low as reasonably possible.
If you are worried or concerned about having a bone scan, you should discuss this with your referring doctor before coming to the examination.
If you think you may be pregnant, please inform our Nuclear Medicine team before your examination commences.
Who will perform my examination?
At Envision Medical Imaging, your scan will be carried out by a Nuclear Medicine Technologist, who has a degree in Medical Radiation Science and is accredited by the ANZSNM.
Your images will be reviewed along with your relevant medical history, and any other imaging, and be reported on by our Nuclear Medicine Radiologist or Nuclear Medicine Physician.
What happens after a bone scan?
How do I receive my results?
If your results are needed urgently, Envision Medical Imaging will arrange to have your results available immediately. Otherwise your referring doctor will receive your report within 48 hours of your examination. Please ensure that you make a follow up appointment with your referring doctor to discuss the results.
Radiation from the injected radiopharmaceutical diminishes quickly, however there is still a very small amount of residual radioactivity left for up to 24 hours after your scan. You are free to resume normal activities following the procedure (unless otherwise advised). If you are caring for a small child, or breastfeeding, we may ask you to take some minor precautions.