What is a bone scan? How long does it take?

What is a bone scan? How long does it take?

A bone scan or skeletal scan is a type of test procedure that is done to measure the activity of bone cells. It uses radiotracers and a computer to get pictures of the skeleton. The pictures point out the abnormalities in the skeletal bones.

When to use a bone scan test?

A bone scintigraphy is often used to diagnose bone problems such as stress fractures, cancerous lesions, or other conditions that cannot be clearly seen on conventional x-rays.

An orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore might use the findings of the bone scan test and recommend you to go for an immediate surgery. They will be able to assess the nature of damage that your bones might be experiencing from and decide on the future course of action as far as the surgery and complete recovery is concerned. 

Bone scan test procedure

A bone scan procedure starts by injecting a slightly radioactive material called a radiotracer into a vein in the patient’s arm. Within a few hours, about half of the marks are detected by bone cells, while the other half is excreted from the body by the kidneys. The indicator is attracted to areas of the bone that are very active, and this can be seen with a special camera that detects the radiation emitted by the indicator. 

The activity and function of the cells in the bones is what a bone scan should read. Many people think of bones as static, dry structures that support the body and do little else. In fact, bones are alive and active, metabolizing nutrients and repairing problems just like any other tissue in the body. Certain problems can cause changes in bone metabolism. These changes can be observed with bone scintigraphy, and a doctor can use the results to diagnose problems and suggest treatments.

A camera that detects radiation from an inserted indicator sees areas that absorb little or no indicator as dark spots. They are normal in certain places, but an abnormal dark spot may indicate a lack of blood supply to the area or the presence of certain types of cancer. In areas where bone is growing or repairing rapidly, more traces will be absorbed and the scan will show a light area or “hot spot”. While a hot spot can also be normal, it can indicate problems such as arthritis, an infection, or the presence of a tumor.

The amount of radiation absorbed by the body during bone scans is usually small enough to be completely safe. However, a patient who is or may be pregnant should consult a physician before injecting a tracer. If there is a legitimate medical reason for doing so, the bone scan is usually not delayed. In rare cases, the patient may have an allergic reaction to the indicator, but a bone scan usually poses no greater risk than plain x-rays.

How long does a bone scan take?

A bone scan is a two-part examination.

For the first part, you will first see the doctor who will ask you several questions about the indication and who will choose the type of images to be taken.

Then the product will be injected into you intravenously and some pictures can already be taken.

There is then a waiting time of about 3 hours. You should not stay on the ward during this waiting time. We ask you to drink plenty of water during this waiting time in order to go to the toilet frequently.

The second part consists of the realization of stereotypes. Depending on the indication, taking these shots can take up to 1 hour.

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