Your treating provider may order a bone scan if you are experiencing unexplained skeletal pain, a bone infection or a bone injury that can’t be seen using standard X-ray imaging. A bone scan is a nuclear medicine test that is used to help track and diagnose several types of bone disease and examine the bones for damage caused by cancer or another disease. The scan can also help find cancer which began in the bones as well as cancer that has metastasized (spread) to the bone from other parts of the body. Often, a bone scan can detect problems days to months earlier than a standard X-ray scan.
Bone scans are also used to monitor how cancer in the bone is responding to treatment. Usually, the entire body is scanned during this procedure using the PET camera. The CT camera may also be used for this scan simultaneously to provide more detail regarding the condition of the bones.
During the scan, a small amount of a radioactive tracer is injected into a vein in your arm. The tracer travels through your bloodstream and then absorbed by the bones. Our camera then takes pictures of the tracer in your bones. The pictures show areas abnormal areas that absorbed very little to no amount of the tracer, which could be indicative of lack of blood flow to the bone or certain types of cancer.