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Bone scan

If your doctor has asked for you to have a bone scan, you will be seen in Nuclear Medicine by one of our nurses or technologists who will explain the test to you in detail and answer any questions you may have.

You will be given a small injection of a radioactive dye which is used to obtain the scan pictures. The injection is taken up into your bones, but this takes time so there is a waiting period between the injection and the scan.

You will then be told an approximate time for your scan which is usually at least two-and-a-half hours after the injection. If you wish, you may leave the department during this waiting time as long as you return in time for the scan.

When it is time for your scan, you will need to lie down for about 60 minutes whilst the pictures are taken. You may need to undress and metal objects will need to be removed. There is no tunnel to go into. The camera will come close to you but will not touch you. After the scan you can return home. Your doctor will be sent the results of the scan as soon as they are available.

Do I need to prepare for the scan?

You can eat and drink as normal before the scan. Following the injection, it is important that you drink at least two pints of fluid. This is equivalent to six cups or glasses. You can drink any type of fluid and eat as normal. A variety of drinks is provided in the department. We also ask that you pass water regularly to keep your bladder empty.

Are there any side effects?

There are not normally any side effects from this injection. The amount of radiation involved is comparable to that received during some X-ray investigations.

Will it hurt?

There is just the pinprick of the needle which is similar to having a blood test. The injection will not make you sleepy and it does not prevent you from driving a car.

Is it frightening?

It is not frightening; music or a DVD can be played whilst you are having your scan.  However, if you are claustrophobic please tell a member of staff when you arrive.

What happens to the results?

The results of the scan will be sent to the doctor who referred you for the scan.

Any more questions?

If you have any questions that have not been answered please contact the department. You may find it useful to write down any questions you have about your scan.

Last reviewed: 14 June 2023