Most problems with bones and joints are characterized by physical features. However, there are some bone diseases that do not show changes in the external appearance so their presence must be known through special examinations. One of the examination procedures that can be done is a bone scan.
What is a bone scan?
To diagnose several types of bone disease, a medical method is usually used, namely a bone scan. To give a clear picture of the condition of the patient’s bones, the doctor will use a small amount of radioactive material.
Specifically, to see whether or not there is a problem with bone metabolism, a bone scan will be performed. This metabolism is the process of destroying and replacing healthy cells with damaged bone cells. Bone metabolism is the process by which damaged bone cells are destroyed and replaced with healthy cells.
When bones are damaged or broken, new bone is formed as a healing process. A bone scan is a right procedure to see if this activity is going well or not.
In addition, bone scans are also commonly used to see if cancer has spread to the bones from other parts of the body, such as the prostate or breast.
When does this procedure need to be done?
Doctors will usually recommend this procedure if a physical exam or other diagnostic methods can’t detect a problem with your bones. This procedure can also help identify unexplained bone pain.
Bone scans can show bone problems due to medical conditions such as:
- Avascular necrosis (death of bone tissue due to lack of blood supply),
- Bone cancer,
- Cancer that spreads to the bones from other parts of the body,
- Fibrous dysplasia (abnormal growth of scar tissue in healthy bone),
- Infection involving bone, and
- Paget’s disease (a disease that causes bones to become weak and deformed).
What are the risks to be aware of from this procedure?
The Bone scan is a safe procedure to do. What’s more, the radioactive material used in this procedure results in very little radiation exposure.
However, bone scans may not be recommended for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The reason, the developing fetus can be exposed to radiation exposure. In nursing mothers, radioactive substances can contaminate breast milk.
Allergic reactions to radiotracer are very rare and usually have only a mild effect. However, you should still tell your doctor or other staff if you have allergies.
Radiotracer injection may cause some pain and redness. Tell your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms after having a bone scan.
How does the bone scan procedure take place?
The bone scan procedure does not require special preparation. You simply come to the hospital on the appointed day.
During the procedure, you will need to remove all jewelry and accessories that you are wearing. Sometimes, the doctor may give you a mild sedative to help you feel comfortable during the bone scan procedure.
Before starting the imaging, you will be injected with a radioactive substance first through your arm. This substance will circulate in your body through the bloodstream for the next two to four hours.
As the radioactive substance spreads throughout your body, the cells from the damaged bone will attract the radioactive substance so that it collects in these places.
The doctor will use a special camera to scan your bones. If any part of the bone is damaged, dark dots will appear in the image.
This procedure takes approximately one hour. If the results are not good, the doctor may repeat the injection and scan your bone again.read more