Nuclear bone scans

A bone scan is a test that measures the rate of formation of bone and creates a picture of the skeleton based upon this. Virtually any disease that causes injury to bone will also cause new bone to form. This change in the normal turnover of bone is a very sensitive measure of many disease processes.

Bone scans are frequently utilized to detect the spread of tumor to bones, especially from cancer of the prostate or the breast. These studies are also often used for looking for fractures and sites of bone infection. The value of these studies is that they can find abnormalities not seen with other tests and are a quick means to view the entire skeleton.

The study is performed by injecting a mildly radioactive compound, a phosphate labeled with technetium, into a vein in the arm. Depending upon the indication, pictures are then acquired immediately after the injection, 3 hours later or 24 hours later. There are virtually no side effects associated with the test and the resultant dose of radiation is small.

example of nuclear medicine exam - bone scan
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