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What is Bone scan?

What is Bone scan?
A bone scan is a nuclear imaging technique, used for detecting any kind of damage or amonality in the normal metabolism or structure of the bones of a patient. The test is termed as a nuclear test because the procedure involves a radioactive substance, usually termed as a tracer. The tracer, which is broadly referred to as a dye is injected in the body of the patient intravenous (through IV).

When is bone scan recommended?
A doctor is inclined to suggest a bone scan to patients suffering with any kind of bone damage, symptoms of bone disease, or inexplicable bone pain. Some of the conditions wherein a bone scan would be most notably recommended and would be helpful include
- Accidental dislocations or fractures
- Arthritis
- Paget’s disease of bone
- Cancer, both originating and metastasizing from bone
- Osteomyelitis - Infections in bones, joints, or joint replacements
- Avascular necrosis - Severe lack of blood to the bone tissues
- Fibrous dysplasia - Scarring by abnormal tissues in normal bones

Preparing for bone scan
Bone scans do not need any dietary or activity restrictions. Care must be taken regarding barium and bismuth based medication or exposure.

Prior to the procedure, it is advised to remove all jewellery and other metal objects.

While the tracer, during injection and after entering the body is negligibly painful, a mild sedative might be used, in case the doctor might feel the need to relax the patient.

Understanding bone scan results
The interpretation of a bone scan test result is performed by a doctor or a nuclear medicine imaging expert.

A uniform distribution of the tracer substance all along the body is indicative of a healthy bone condition. The main detection process is to spot darker hot spots pointing to abnormalities and lighter cold spots indicating a lack of blood flow.

The results are used as preliminary indicators of abnormalities, which need to be supported with further testing for a solid diagnosis.

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