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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:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
  • Tell your caregiver if you know or think you might be pregnant.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have had a bone infection, broken bones, or a bone disease in the past. If you have had a bone or other scan before, tell your healthcare provider about the scan and the results. Also tell your healthcare provider if you have had surgeries in the past, such as surgery to repair or replace a joint.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have any problems with your kidneys, such as kidney failure. Also tell healthcare providers if you must limit how much fluid you drink because of a medical condition.

The night before your procedure:

  • Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your procedure:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.


What will happen:

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 taken out, 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 are late or cannot make it to your bone scan.
  • You have questions or concerns about your bone scan.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • Your signs and symptoms suddenly get worse.


  • 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.

Care Agreement

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 caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.