Supporting women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer


Preparation: None

Procedure: A bone scan is often performed on patients who have been diagnosed with cancer in order to assist their physician in the staging of their disease. You will be asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to appointment time in order to register and fill in a health questionnaire. [Canada not UK]

A bone scan is a painless procedure that consists of 2 parts. The first part of the test involves an injection or a radioactive tracer into a vein. The radioactive tracer will go to your bones and allow pictures to be taken. A series of pictures may or may not be taken at the time of injection. There are no side effects or restrictions for this test. You may eat, drink, drive and you may also leave the hospital between the first and second parts of the test. In the UK you will be asked to avoid pregnant women and young children during that time and afterwards - you will be told how long for.

The technologist will give you a time to return for the second part of your test. This time is approximately 3 hours after the time of your injection. When you return for these pictures, you will be in the department for approximately 1 hour. Your scan will consist of pictures of all of your bones. This doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with your bones, it is routine for everyone.

When your scan is complete, a Nuclear Medicine Physician will read the scan and send a report to your doctor. This usually takes 7-10 days.

or put another way .....

A bone scan is a very easy procedure.

In short, it is very easy. You will go to the nuclear medicine dept and you will receive an injection. It is a radioactive phosphate so no side effects.

You won't feel any different that you do now. There are 2 parts to a bone scan. When you first get to the hospital, you may be asked to fill out a questionaire before you have the bone scan injection. Some depts don't have a questionaire so don't worry if they don't ask you to do this.

The nuclear medicine technologist will give you the injection of the radioactive tracer into a vein in your arm. You will be given a time to return for the pictures. Generally speaking the time will be 3 hours after your injection time. The reason behind this is that it takes time for the material to be taken up by your bones. It isn't necessary for you to stay at the hospital between your injection and your scan. You may eat, drink, take any meds anytime you normally would. There is nothing that you can do that will interfere with the test besides not coming back for the pictures!!! We like you to drink extra fluids between the injection and the time you return for your pictures. The reason behind this is that not all of the tracer will be taken up by your bones and what isn't taken up, gets cleared out through your kidneys. So drink lots and go to the loo as often as you can. It will help us take better pictures.

Don't be alarmed when you see the injection is inside a lead box. It is to protect the staff as we work with radioactive tracers all day long and it limits our occupational exposure.

After your pictures are taken, usually takes anywhere from 45 mins to 1 hour, you may go home.

As you are radioactive, you should stay away from pregnant ladies and small children for the rest of the day.

What it's like to have a bone scan