Bone Scan

UKNOW’s Docs Procedures Bone Scan

What is a Bone Scan?

A bone scan is a test used to take pictures of your bones and joints. The scan?s pictures are taken with the help of a special medicine that makes your bones bright and clear.

Why do I need to have a Bone Scan?

You need a bone scan because the doctor needs to see pictures of your bones. The bone scan will see things in your bones that an X-Ray cannot see.

What does the Bone Scan look like?

The bone scan is a large machine with a special camera that takes pictures of your bones.  There is a bed, sometimes called a table that you lie down on. The camera hangs over you as you lie down on the bed. The camera will not touch you. There is also a computer that helps to take the pictures.

What happens when I have a Bone Scan?

A porter will come and bring you to the area where you will have the bone scan.   A technologist (the person who will take the pictures) will greet you and explain what will happen.  You will be given a gown to wear, this looks like a backward housecoat, you may already be wearing one.

You will go into the room where the bone scan machine is. Before you have the scan you will be given a special medicine called radioisotope. This medicine will act like a highlighter to make your bones bright. This will help the doctor to see your bones better. This medicine has to go into your vein. That means that the technologist will give you a small needle to put the medicine into your vein.

After you get the medicine, you will have to wait about 2 ? 3 hours because it takes that long for the medicine to go into your bones. You will probably go back to your hospital room to wait. When it is time for the test, a porter will bring you back to the bone scan area. The technologist will help you get up onto a bed where you will lie down. It is now time to take the pictures. In the room, there is a camera and a computer. The camera is very big and will come very close to your body but it will not touch you. The camera is a special camera that will see the medicine in your bones; it will take pictures of your bones for the doctor to see. Sometimes the technologist will give you a picture of your bones to take back with you. Sometimes the scan can last for 30-60 minutes. When you are done, you are able to go back to your room.

What will it feel like?

You will feel a quick pinch or poke when the technologist gives you the medicine with the small needle.

The camera used for the test will not hurt you.  It will not touch your body. It is important for you to lie very still and relax so that the pictures are not blurry. It sometimes can help to pass the time faster if you think about some of your favourite things or a favourite place.

Preparing for the test

Your nurse will give you the information you need to help you get ready to have your bone scan. All you have to do for the scan is to remember that you will have to lie still.


If you have any questions about the test, always ask!

This content has been reviewed and approved by health care team members at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. All content is for educational purposes only. For further information, please speak with your health care team.

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