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A bone scan is an imaging test. It looks inside bones to find damage caused by several conditions, including cancer. It can also help monitor how well cancer treatment is working.
A bone scan uses a very small amount of a radioactive substance called a tracer (also called a radiotracer or radiopharmaceutical) to help find abnormal areas of bone.
The tracer contains a small amount of radioactive substance. So, a bone scan is referred to as nuclear medicine.
The test is performed by a certified nuclear medicine technologist.
The gamma cameras, with the help of a computer, will create images. Areas that appear lighter or darker could indicate an abnormality.
Usually, the entire body is scanned during this procedure. If results show bone damage that may be caused by cancer, more tests may be needed. These tests may include:
These are some common questions you might want to ask:
Your child most likely won’t need to do anything differently before a bone scan. But be sure you follow any instructions from the imaging center.
Your child will be able to return to normal activities after the scan. They should not feel any side effects.
The care team may your child to drink several glasses of water during the next 24-48 hours to flush out any remaining tracer. Usually, it is gone after 2 days.
Even though the amount of radioactivity is very low, experts recommend you and your family take these precautions after the scan:
A nuclear medicine physician will interpret the scan results and will share them with the doctor who ordered the scan. Your child’s primary oncologist will share the results with you.
Reviewed: October 2021