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Isotope Bone Imaging

Isotope Bone Imaging scans are used to detect arthritis, fractures, sports injuries, tumors and even cases of child abuse. Bone Imaging scans may also be used to evaluate unexplained bone pain and bony changes due to certain cancers.

Please note that these scans are different to Bone Density or DXA scans, which are used to diagnose osteoporosis.

Test Preparation

Please inform us if you are pregnant or if you think you are pregnant.

For most bone scans, you will be asked to increase your fluid intake both before and after the procedure.

Exam Procedure

During the first part of the test, a small amount of radioactive tracer is injected through the vein. It generally takes about two hours for the tracer to be absorbed by the bones. The Radiographer will let you know if it is OK to eat during this waiting period. During the waiting period, you should try to urinate as often as possible because it will help eliminate the tracer from your body that is not going to the bones.

Depending on the study, the Radiographer may take pictures of your bones as the tracer is moving through your bloodstream before it reaches your bones. It takes about 30 minutes to complete the images. In most bone studies, however, the imaging portion takes much longer, from two to four hours.

For most bone scans, you will lie on the imaging table with the camera positioned above or below you. Several images may be taken or the camera may move slowly, imaging the entire length of your body. Although the imaging session takes a long time, it is extremely important that you remain as still as possible so that the scan results are accurate.

For children, the procedure is the same as for adults, except that after the tracer injection, the child may be given a sedative. If the child is given a sedative, he or she will have to remain in hospital until they are fully awake. After the test, the child should be able to resume daily activities, and there are no restrictions to eating, drinking or contact with others. If the child has been sedated, you may wish to let him or her rest for a day before resuming normal play activity.

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