What is a bone scan?
A bone scan is a test to look at your child's bones and check if they have any disease, infection or injury. This test is very sensitive and can show changes to the bones before they are seen on an x-ray.
How is a bone scan done?
The scan is done by a nuclear medicine technologist. It has two parts.
- Your child will have a small injection (needle) into a vein in their arm or back of their hand.
- After a few hours, the technologist will do a scan to take pictures of your child's bones.
The injection contains a very small amount of radioactive medicine. This mixes with your child's blood and will go to their bones. It takes two to three hours for enough medicine to collect in the bones before the pictures are taken.
Note: The injection before the scan is not painful, but your child's hand or arm can still be numbed first with a topical anaesthetic (a special cream or cooling spray). If you would like this option, it is best to arrive at least 30 minutes before your appointment to allow the anaesthetic to take effect.
To have the scan, your child will lie down on a narrow table and have a safety belt across their stomach to keep them safely in place. They can usually watch a movie while the scan is being done.
Must my child stay in the hospital between the injection and the scan?
Your child can leave the hospital after the injection, but they must return for the scan at the time given by the technologist.
How long does the bone scan take?
The bone scan takes about three to four hours in total. This includes the time to inject your child, two or three hours waiting time after the injection, and about an hour for the scan. Please add half an hour to the total time if your child has a topical anaesthetic before the injection.
Does my child need to do anything special to prepare for the scan?
No, your child can eat and drink as usual.
After the injection, give your child plenty of fluids and have them go to the bathroom to urinate (pee) often. This will help their body remove any radioactive medicine that does not go to their bones.
Some children may need to be sedated (calmed with medicine) to help them stay still for the scan. If your child needs to be sedated, you will get other instructions.
Will I be able to stay with my child during the scan?
One parent or guardian may stay in the room during the scan, but no other children are allowed.
Does the scan carry any risks?
A bone scan involves giving a very small amount of radiation to your child. The nuclear medicine team will discuss this with you when you and your child arrive for the scan. You might also find it helpful to read this information about nuclear medicine from the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging.
When are the results available?
A nuclear medicine doctor will send a report to your family doctor or paediatrician (child's doctor) within one or two working days of the scan. Please contact your doctor to get the results. You will not be able to get the results from the nuclear medicine technologist.
- A bone scan is a test to look at your child's bones and check if they have any disease, infection or injury. It takes three to four hours in total.
- Your child will be injected with a small amount of radioactive medicine and have pictures taken of their bones two to three hours later.
- After the injection, give your child plenty of fluids and have them go to the bathroom to urinate (pee) often to help their body remove any medicine that did not reach their bones.
- A nuclear medicine doctor will send the results of the scan to your family doctor or paediatrician (child's doctor) within two working days. The person who does the scan cannot give the results.