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Bone Scan


  • You have been referred for a Bone Scan in which imaging is done in two parts: Initial and Delayed.

  • A Bone Scan is very sensitive in showing abnormalities in bones that can often be missed by conventional X-rays.

  • Bone Scans are very useful in showing arthritis, infections, fractures, sports injuries, Paget’s Disease, Avascular Necrosis, Benign Bone Tumors, Malignant Bone Tumors along with staging for cancers before and after treatment.

  • A Bone Scan coupled with a White Cell study and a Bone Marrow study is extremely sensitive in distinguishing between infection or loosening in prosthetic joints.

  • The test involves a small injection of  “tracer” (like having a blood test).

  • The tracer we use is called 99mTc-HDP (99m-Technetium Hydroxymethylene Diphosphonate). There are rarely any side effects with this injection.

  • Initial images are done of the area where you are experiencing pain using a Gamma Camera (1). This takes 15-20 minutes and is painless.

  • Sometimes we do not require Initial Imaging and you only receive the tracer injection. This takes 1 - 2 minutes.

  • You will need to drink at least 1 litre of water ‘after’ your injection.

  • You will be asked to return to the Department for your Delayed images after 2 – 3 hours.

  • Delayed Imaging can take anything from 40 to 80 minutes.

  • During your Delayed Imaging, you will be required to lie still whilst the Gamma Camera images your bones.

  • Often, we require imaging your bones in 3D 'after' the Delayed imaging. This is called SPECT/CT (2) imaging.

  • With SPECT/CT imaging, the same Gamma Camera simply rotates around your body, taking images all the time. This can take 15-30 minutes and again is painless.

  • You receive a slight radiation dose by having a Bone Scan with SPECT/CT ~ up to 3.5 times your yearly background radiation (3).


Patient Preparation:

  • If you are pregnant, trying to fall pregnant or breast feeding, you must inform our staff.

  • If you have had prior imaging e.g. PET, Nuclear Scan, CT, MRI, X-Ray, Ultrasound, etc... please bring these with you.

  • Please also bring your referral and any blood results that you may have had done.

  • There is no preparation for a Bone Scan i.e. eat and drink as normal.

  • If you are on any medications, please take these as normal.

  • Wear comfortable clothing and minimise the amount of metal jewellery you have on (all metal objects will need to be removed prior to imaging).

  • Important Note: You cannot have this test if you have had a PET or Nuclear Scan within 24 hours prior to this test. If you have had Iodine-131 therapy, allow 4-weeks before having this test. Please ring to discuss booking options.​


Breast-Feeding Mothers: Once you have been given the tracer, you need to stop breast-feeding for two feeds. During this time, you need to express and discard your breast milk. You will need to bottle-feed your child during this period.


(1) A Gamma Camera is a device that detects gamma-rays (gamma-rays are very similar to x-rays) and does not emit any radiation.

(2) SPECT/CT imaging (Single Photon Emission Computer Tomography / Computer Tomography). CT does emit radiation

(3) We all receive a yearly background radiation dose ~ 2.4mSv. Bone Scan with SPECT/CT ~ 8.4mSv = 3.5 times yearly background dose.

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