Bone Scan

What is a Bone scan?

The bone scan is used to evaluate the function of specilized bone cells called osteoblasts. These osteoblasts are especially sensitive during the following processes: cancers, infection and inflammation.


There is no special preparation for the examination, and you may eat and drink normally before your appointment. You can take any medication as usual.


If you are pregnant or breastfeeding it is essential that you let us know before your appointment date.
If you are a female of child bearing age (12-55 years old), you will be asked about your pregnancy and breastfeeding status. If you are unable to confirm you are not pregnant, a pregnancy test may be performed.

The examination

Your bone examination is divided in two parts which you must attend.

After your arrival, a radiographer will explain the procedure to you. You will then have a small amount of radioactive tracer injected. The injected tracer is carried through the bloodstream to your bones. It emits gamma rays which can be detected by a piece of equipment called a gamma camera.

Depending on the reason for your scan you may have some images taken immediately after the injection to look at the bloodstream around your bones.

Then you will be sent away and asked to return 2-3 HOURS after injection for the second part of the scan. This time gap is to allow the tracer to be fully absorbed into your bones for us to see it. During this time you may eat as normal but you should drink more than usual and empty your bladder regularly as this will help to create better quality images.

Upon your return you will be asked to empty your bladder. You do not need to undress for the examination. The machine is very quiet and you do not go through a tube or tunnel.

Who will be present?

Your scan will be performed by a Nuclear Medicine trained member of staff which stays with you in the room while scanning. In addition we might have students in our department who will observe the procedure if you give your permission.

Can I bring a friend or relative with me?

You can bring a friend or relative with you and they may accompany you for the injection or scan.

Is radioactivity dangerous?

The amount of radiation involved is similar to that from an x-ray examination. The radioactivity naturally disperses from the body and is largely gone in 24 hours.