Bone Scan

Bone Scan

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear Medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive chemicals or drugs to diagnose and treat disease. These radioactive drugs are substances that are attracted to specific organs, bones or tissues. The drugs used in nuclear medicine give off gamma rays, which can be detected outside your body by special cameras called gamma cameras. These cameras work together with computers to create images that provide information about the area of the body being imaged.

What is a Bone Scan?

You have been scheduled for a Bone Scan. This study involves the use of a small amount of radioactive material to show injury or disease in the bones. The level of radioactivity used is extremely low and has no side effects. The Bone Scan is a 2-part study. It involves an injection and possible imaging at the time of your first appointment.

First Visit

INJECTION – On your first visit a small amount of radioactive material will be injected into a vein in your arm. After you check in, the technologist will explain the test to you and answer any questions you might have. The injection itself will only take about 15 minutes.

If images need to be taken at this time, they will be done as you are injected and immediately following the injection. This will show the blood flow and soft tissues.

Your actual bone imaging is performed 2-4 hours later. The technologist will give you a time to return for them. You should try to drink plenty of fluids the day of the scan and also the next day

Second Visit

IMAGING – You will be imaged with an instrument called a Gamma Camera. The camera will be positioned over the area to be scanned. The images will take approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours. You must lie still during the actual scan but you will have the opportunity to move at different times during the procedure.

The images will then be shown to a radiologist to determine if the scan is complete. After examining the images, the radiologist may decide to have additional pictures or x-rays taken. These are helpful in obtaining results of the scan and can be done the same day, usually immediately following the bone scan.

What must be done prior to the scan?

All patients are to check in at the Radiology Department Reception Area located on the first floor of the University Hospital at the designated appointment time. You may want to allow extra time for parking.

Your procedure may involve the use of a drug that is specially ordered for your test. If you are unable to keep this appointment for any reason, we ask that you call our Scheduling Office at (434) 924-9400 at least 24 hours prior to your appointment if possible. If you are going to be late, please call us at the same number.


For any questions or concerns:

Contact the Radiology and Medical Imaging department at 434-924-9400.