Mercy Medical Center North Iowa

Bone Scan

What is a Bone Scan?
A bone scan is a nuclear medicine study of the skeletal system.  Its purpose is to search for abnormalities of the bone.  This would include such things as stress fractures, compression fractures, bone infections and metastatic disease.

Why did the doctor order this scan for me?
This scan is usually ordered when a patient has a new finding of cancer (most commonly breast and prostate cancer.) This scan also is ordered when patients have unspecified chronic or acute pain.  

What do I need to do to prepare for this scan?
There is no special preparation for this exam, but it is best to be well hydrated. Please bring your insurance card(s), driver's license and co-pay.

What should I expect?
You will first need to check in and register at the Radiology Registration desk that is located past Mercy Gift Shop, on the left. When you register, your personal and insurance information will be updated.  Once you are registered, you will be asked to sit in the waiting area. A technologist will call you and take you to the Nuclear Medicine area. 

Who will be in the scanning room with me?
Your family is welcome to accompany you during the explanation of the test, but will be asked to return to the waiting room during the actual scan.  A nuclear medicine technologist will perform your scan.

What will I experience during the scan?
The technologist will ask you some questions regarding your medical history and the problems that you are experiencing.  You be given an injection of a radioactive tracer.  There are no side effects from this material. You will then need to wait two-and-a-half to three hours for this tracer to circulate before your pictures can be taken.  During this wait there will be no restrictions and you will be allowed to leave the hospital. We do ask that you drink extra fluids during your wait. After the two-and-a-half to three hour wait we will begin the scan, which will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes.

What do I need to do after the scan?
Following your bone scan you can return to normal activities. 

When will I get results from the scan?
Your results will be available to your physician/provider within two to three business days.  You may receive a phone call, letter, or have another appointment scheduled to receive your results.  If you are unsure of how you will receive your results, please contact your provider's office.

We are very concerned about any anxiety you may have about your exam. We are happy to answer any questions you may have!

If you have questions call:
641-428-7787 or
1-800-433-3883 ext. 7787