A bone scan is a diagnostic test that is performed to detect bone diseases and also assess the severity of the disease. A bone scan is an imaging test that can shows the damage to bones, detects cancer that has spread to the bones, and spots problems such as infection and trauma to the bones.
How is a Bone Scan performed?
Bone scan is a painless procedure, only a small amount of pain if felt when the needle is inserted. The patient has to remain still during the scan and change positions when instructed by the technician. During the scan, a small amount of radioactive substance called a tracer is injected into a vein. This radioactive substance travels through the bloodstream and into the bones. After a certain time, a special camera is used to takes pictures of the tracer’s path in the bones.
Areas of the bone that absorb little or no amount of tracer appear as dark (cold spots). These cold spots are the areas that lack blood supply or have certain types of cancer. Certain areas (hot spots) of the bone may absorb more amount of tracer and appear bright. These areas indicate fast bone growth or repair, and also the bone defects such as fracture, arthritis, tumor, etc.
Why the Test is performed?
A bone scan can be carried out to:
- Detect bone tumor or cancer
- Detect a bone fracture which cannot be seen on an x-ray
- Diagnose if a cancer that initiated in any other part of the body has spread to the bones
- Diagnose a bone infection
- Evaluate metabolic disorders, such as osteomalacia, osteoporosis, etc.
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