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Bone Scintigraphy


Bone scintigraphy, or bone scan, is a procedure to look at the bones in your body. It shows pictures of any bone fractures, damage, or disease.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

During your procedure:

You will be given a small amount of radioactive tracer in your IV. Your healthcare provider may take pictures soon after the tracer enters your body. Most often, the bone scan pictures are taken about 2 to 5 hours after the tracer is given. Some bone scans may be done up to 24 hours after the tracer is given. You will also need to urinate just before the pictures are taken. While the pictures are being taken, you may be asked to lie on a table. Pillows may be placed under your knees to help support your back. Lie still and do not talk. Devices, such as arm boards and sandbags, may be used to help you stay in one position.

After your procedure:

When your bone scan is complete and the IV is removed, you may be able to go home. If you are staying in the hospital, you will be taken back to your room. Ask your healthcare provider when you will get the results of your bone scan. Drink plenty of liquids for 24 hours after your bone scan to help flush the tracer out of your body. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are a breastfeeding mother. You will need to express and throw away your breast milk for up to 2 days.


  • You may need another scan if the pictures are not clear. This can occur if you move during the scan, or the pictures are taken too soon after the tracer is given. If you have a prosthesis, it can make areas of bone hard to see. Healthcare providers may not be able to see certain areas clearly if your bladder is full. The scan may not show areas of bone damage or disease. It may show abnormal areas even when the bone is normal. You will be exposed to radiation during a bone scan.
  • If you do not have the bone scan, you may have bone damage or disease that is not found. If you have unknown bone damage, such as a fracture, your pain and other symptoms may get worse. You may not get the treatment that you need if you have bone cancer, a bone infection, or other bone disease.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Bone Scintigraphy (Inpatient Care)

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