A bone scan is a Nuclear Medicine test using a small amount of radioactive tracer (radiopharmaceutical) that is injected into the arm vein to image the function of the skeletal system. It is useful in diagnosing and managing conditions such as fracture, inflammation, infection and tumors in bones.
Before your scan
What to bring
- Your referral form
- Any relevant previous imaging
- Your Medicare card, and any concession cards
A referral from your doctor or medical specialist, and an appointment is required for this examination.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a small child on the appointment day, please notify us in advance to receive special instructions.
Children under the age of 13 may, by prior arrangement, arrive early and have a local anaesthetic cream applied to the injection site.
On the morning of the test, drink a normal amount of fluid, and eat normally.
During your scan
What to expect during my procedure
When you attend your appointment at Lake Imaging you will be asked to answer a few safety questions, remove any jewellery, watches etc, then change into an examination gown.
After explaining the procedure to you, the technologist will prepare and inject the tracer into an arm vein. This may happen while you are positioned under the gamma camera to obtain initial pictures of the blood supply to the area.
The gamma camera is a large square radiation detector which sits close to the area being examined. In some procedures, it rotates around the body while acquiring images (SPECT). You will experience no unusual sensations or discomfort from the scanning process.
This first part of the study takes 15 to 20 minutes. We will then ask you to leave and resume your normal activities, returning two to five hours later at the time specified, for delayed imaging. The exact timing depends on several factors, and you will be advised on the day.
The later images are similar to the first (there are no further injections), but take from 20 to 60 minutes to complete, depending on the area to be covered. These show the uptake of the tracer in the bones, with abnormal areas showing as an increased accumulation.
The gamma images may be combined with a low dose CT scan done at the same time on the same scanner. This combination of SPECT/CT improves the accuracy of the information obtained, and adds only a few minutes to the procedure time.
Risks and side effects
Nuclear medicine examinations are considered very safe with almost no reported adverse reactions attributable to the radiopharmaceuticals used in these examinations.
Nuclear Medicine studies require very small doses of gamma radiation and are only performed where the benefits of the examination are deemed to outweigh any potential risks. At Lake Imaging you can be assured that using the latest technology and with staff trained in radiation reduction techniques, radiation doses are kept as low as reasonably possible.
If you are worried or concerned about having a Nuclear Medicine study you should discuss this with your referring doctor or medical specialist before coming for your examination.
If you think you may be pregnant, please inform our Nuclear Medicine team before your examination.
For further information regarding radiation safety please visit:
Who will perform and report my examination
At Lake Imaging your examination will be carried out by a Nuclear Medicine Technologist who has a degree Medical Radiations and is accredited by the ANZSNM.
Your images will be reviewed along with your relevant medical history, and any other imaging, and be reported by our Nuclear Medicine credentialed radiologist or Nuclear Medicine physician (a medical doctor specialising in the interpretation of Nuclear Medicine studies).
After your scan
What to expect after my procedure
Radiation from the injected isotope diminishes to a very low level by the end of the procedure, and you are free to resume normal activities. If you are caring for a small child, or breastfeeding, we may ask you to take some minor precautions.
How do I receive my results?
If your results are needed urgently, or you have an appointment straight after your scan with your referring doctor or health care provider, Lake Imaging will arrange to have your results available immediately. Otherwise your referring doctor or health care provider will receive your report within 48 hours of your examination.
Please ensure that you make a follow up appointment with your referring doctor or health care provider to discuss your results.