Understanding Radiology: What is a Bone Scan?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

This post is Part 3 of 4 in our Understanding Radiology series

Image of a bone scan

During a bone scan, your radiologist will check to see if there have been any physical or chemical changes in your bones. To do this, a small amount of radioactive of material is placed in an IV and then metabolized, explains Dr. J. Mark Fulmer, a diagnostic radiologist on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

“We make a picture of the whole body, head to toe,” Fulmer says. “We’re looking for places in the body with more metabolic activity.”

Fulmer says there could be some “hot spots,” scattered around in the body. These “hot spots” could indicate the presence of conditions such as certain types of bone cancer, bone infections or bone trauma.

Because the body can have several “hot spots,” Fulmer says that a bone scan is always followed by anatomic images to make sure the diagnosis is correct.

If you are scheduled to have a bone scan, this helpful “What to do before, during and after” guide may come in handy.

Dr. Fulmer explains more in the short video below.

To learn more about diagnostic radiology tests, check out the rest of our Understanding Radiology series.

Series NavigationUnderstanding Radiology: What is a CT Scan?Understanding radiology: What is a PET scan?

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