Radiology

Bone Scan

What is a bone scan?

What should you do prior to the exam?

What should you do when you arrive?

What should you expect during the exam?

What should you do after the exam?

Test results

What is a bone scan?

A bone scan is a test that evaluates the patient's entire skeleton. It is helpful in diagnosing causes of bone pain due to trauma, exercise, or other reasons.

This exam requires the use of a radiopharmaceutical through an IV catheter.

What should you do prior to the exam?

Your child should not receive radiographic contrast agents 24 hours prior to the bone scan.

If your child requires sedation you will receive additional instructions to follow.

Dress your child comfortably, in clothes that are easily removed. Your child may be given a gown to change into for the procedure.

We have a large variety of video entertainment to choose from, however, your child can also bring along his/her favorite video or DVD to watch during the exam.

You may want to bring a snack or drink for your child to have after the exam.

Note: Parents will be allowed to accompany the child into the exam room. It may be helpful to make other arrangements for siblings.

What should you do when you arrive?

If your appointment is scheduled at the Main Hospital:

You must check in to Outpatient Registration, on the third floor of the Main Hospital, 45 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. This is where your registration process occurs.

The law requires that you bring a prescription from your doctor's office stating the exam to be done and the reason for it.

If your insurance requires a referral, it must be presented at the time of registration. Proof of insurance will also need to be provided at this time.

Once the registration process is completed, the Nuclear Medicine Department will be notified. A technologist or nurse will come out to the central registration area and bring you and your child to a room for IV placement.

If your appointment is scheduled at the Pediatric Imaging Center at King of Prussia:

You must check in at the main registration desk, located in the main waiting room, 45 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. This is where your registration process occurs.

The law requires that you bring a prescription from your doctor's office stating the exam to be done and the reason for it.

If your insurance requires a referral, it must be presented at the time of registration. Proof of insurance will also need to be provided at this time.

Once the registration process is completed, you will be directed to the Radiology waiting room. The Nuclear Medicine technologist will be notified and a technologist or nurse will come out to the Radiology waiting room and bring you and your child to a room for IV placement.

What should you expect during the exam?

A technologist or nurse will place an IV in your child for the radiopharmaceutical (tracer) injection needed for this exam. This IV tube will be placed in the child's arm, hand, or foot. Your child will only feel a little discomfort, like a mild pinch. Once the child has proper IV access, the procedure can begin.

The technologist will ask why the bone scan is being done, and explain the study to you and your child. The technologist will inject the tracer through the IV line.

Sometimes images are taken as we inject the tracer. Your child will have to lie still on the exam table for approximately 15 minutes, while these images are taken. Your child is then allowed to take a break. If images during injection are not required, then your child will be given a break immediately after injection of the tracer. During the break, you and your child may leave the Nuclear Medicine department if you wish. The technologist will tell you what time you need to return to the department for the imaging portion of the test.

It is important to keep your child hydrated during the break. Your child can drink water or juice. The technologist will give you instructions before you leave the department.

The set of delayed images will begin anywhere from 2 to 4 hours after the tracer is given. Your child will lie on the exam table on his/her back with the gamma camera above. The table will move slowly under the camera during the exam. Your child will have to lie still on the exam table during the imaging portion of the test for approximately 30 minutes to over 1 hour, depending on the history and diagnosis. The nuclear medicine physician may then require additional imaging, after viewing the initial images.

A bone SPECT is sometimes required with the bone scan.

Sedation is an option for the delayed imaging portion of the test for young patients and those unable to hold still. You may be given different instructions to follow during the break time if your child is being sedated.

Child Life Specialists are available to answer questions you might have about how to prepare and support your child during the procedure. A child life specialist can also be present at the time of your child's appointment to explain the procedure in developmentally appropriate ways using well established preparation materials. The specialist can also be available to help implement distraction techniques to help your child better cope with the stress of the hospital experience. Please call 215-590-2001 or click the link above for more information. If your child's procedure is scheduled for the Pediatric Imaging Center at King of Prussia, you can call the Child Life Specialist directly at 215-590-3069.

What should you do after the exam?

There are no special instructions for your child to follow upon completion of this procedure.

Test Results

The images from your child's exam are interpreted on the same day and a report is sent to your physician's office.

If your physician has any questions regarding the report, he/she may call 215-590-2584.

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