Understanding radiology: What is a bone scan?

During a bone scan, your radiologist will check to see if there have been any physical or chemical changes in your bones. To do this, a small amount of radioactive of material is placed in an IV and then metabolized, explains J. Mark Fulmer, MD, a diagnostic radiologist on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

“We make a picture of the whole body, head to toe,” Fulmer said. “We’re looking for places in the body with more metabolic activity.”

Fulmer said there could be some “hot spots,” scattered around in the body. These “hot spots” could indicate the presence of conditions such as certain types of bone cancer, bone infections or bone trauma.

Because the body can have several “hot spots,” Fulmer said that a bone scan is always followed by anatomic images to make sure the diagnosis is correct.

If you are scheduled to have a bone scan, this helpful “What to do before, during and after” guide may come in handy.

Dr. Fulmer explains more in the short video below.

To learn more about diagnostic radiology tests, check out the rest of our Understanding Radiology series.

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Ashley Howland
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Ashley works in digital communications and social media. She enjoys covering health care news and is interested in health care social media.

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Understanding radiology: What is a bone scan?