Synonyms: Bone scintigraphy
Medical Specialties: Oncology, Orthopedics, Radiology
A bone scan is a nuclear imaging test that shows skeleton metabolism and cell activity. During the procedure, a radionuclide is injected into a vein. Gamma radiation is omitted from the radionuclide and collects in areas of the bone tissue where there are abnormalities. The areas where the radiation has collected are detected by a scanner, and images of the bones are processed.
A bone scan is a diagnostic scanning test used to determine various bone diseases. Bone scans are different from bone density scans, or DEXA scans, which are more common and used to detect osteoporosis. A bone scan involves injecting a small amount of radioactive material into a vein in the body. The material travels through the bloodstream and collects in an area of the bone that has abnormal tissue, such as cancer. A specialized scanner called a gamma camera is then used to take pictures of the bones.
The small amount of radiation used in the test is usually not harmful and is excreted through urine. A bone scan may be performed in order to diagnose a condition, such as a bone infection or unexplained bone pain. It is also used to determine if cancer is in the bones.