Isotope scan is a nuclear medicine test that uses a small amount of radioactive substance to produce pictures that highlight areas of increased bone activity, to show the extent and activity of the disease.

The radioactive dose is usually injected into a vein in your hand or arm.

Isotope bone scans are non-invasive procedures that are more sensitive than X-rays in evaluating bone structure. The scan is interpreted to be normal if there are no areas of increased or decreased activity. In general, a normal scan shows a uniform concentration of the isotope uptake in all bones. Abnormal results can reveal a disease by showing a high concentration of the isotope in areas of increased bone activity.

The scan will be examined after your visit and a written report on the findings, sent to your referring doctor. Your doctor will consider the result along with results of other tests, such as x- rays and blood tests, your symptoms and family history.

An injection of a small amount of the isotope preparation is given into a vein. It takes time for this substance to be absorbed; therefore the scan is performed approximately 15 minutes to 3 hours after the injection (depends on the scan). You will be asked to drink water between the injection and the scan.

When it is time for the scan, you do not need to undress. You will be taken to the examination room and made comfortable lying on the couch. You need to lie as still whilst each picture is taken. The gamma camera is passed over your body and this will take approximately 40 minutes.

There are no ill-effects from the injection and apart from the injection itself, you will not feel anything.

There is no special preparation for this scan.

  1. Unless you’re told otherwise, you can eat and drink as normal. However, we would advise you to drink plenty of fluids for about two hours before your injection and for the rest of the day
  2. You can continue to take all your tablets or medication as normal
  3. You should remove any metal objects as this may interfere with the scan
  4. Once the test is over you may eat and drink as normal. The procedure will not affect your ability to drive or operate machinery.

Safety Notes:

  • The scan is not recommended during pregnancy or for nursing mothers (breast feeding)
  • Very rarely, some people have an allergic reaction to the injection


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