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Bone Scan

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KEY POINTS

  • A bone scan is a test of your child’s bones using a chemical injected into a vein called a radioactive tracer and a scanner.
  • The bone scan can help find problems with your child’s bones such as tumors, infection, some types of arthritis, and bone fractures. It can often find problems long before they would show up on a regular X-ray.
  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how and when you will hear your child’s test results.

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What is a bone scan?

A bone scan is a test of your child’s bones using a chemical injected into a vein called a radioactive tracer and a scanner.

When is it used?

The bone scan can help find problems with your child’s bones such as tumors, infection, some types of arthritis, and bone fractures. It can often find problems long before they would show up on a regular X-ray.

How do I prepare my child for this scan?

  • Your child may or may not need to take regular medicines the day of the procedure. Tell the healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that your child takes. Some products may increase the risk of side effects. Ask the healthcare provider if your child needs to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any food, medicine, or other allergies such as latex.
  • Tell your child’s provider if your child has had kidney problems or an allergy to injected chemicals.
  • Tell your child’s healthcare provider if your child has recently had X-ray tests using barium or has taken medicine that contains bismuth (like Pepto-Bismol). Barium and bismuth can interfere with the test results.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if your older child is or may be pregnant or is breastfeeding.
  • Follow any other instructions your child’s healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the test. You should understand what your child’s healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your child’s care and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

Your child’s provider will inject a radioactive chemical into one of your child’s veins (IV) 1 to 3 hours before the scan. After the injection, your child will drink several glasses of water to get rid of any chemical that has not been picked up by your child’s bones. Your child will be asked to go to the bathroom and urinate just before the scan so that the bladder will be empty.

What happens during the scan?

To start the scan, your child will lie on an exam table while the scanner moves over the body. Your child may be asked to get into different positions on the scanner table to get a better scan of certain bones. Your child needs to keep still while being scanned. Your child may be given medicine to help relax during the test. Images are shown on a computer after the scan.

The scanning generally lasts 30 to 60 minutes and does not hurt.

What happens after the scan?

You can go home after the scan is completed. Your child’s body will get rid of the radioactive chemical through urine within 36 hours. There will be no change in the color of the urine. The amount of radiation injected is small and your child will not be a danger to your family.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will get your child’s test results
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when you should come back for another scan or checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

What are the risks of this scan?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Your child could have an allergic reaction to the injected chemical. The amount of radioactive material given for this scan is very small and is not a health risk.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider how the risks apply to your child. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-08-19
Last reviewed: 2018-08-31
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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