Radionuclide bone scan. This nuclear imaging technique uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the blood to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone.
A bone scan is a nuclear imaging test that helps diagnose and track several types of bone disease. Your doctor may order a bone scan if you have unexplained skeletal pain, a bone infection or a bone injury that can’t be seen on a standard X-ray.
Why it’s done
Images of bone scans depicting hot spots
If you have unexplained bone pain, a bone scan might help determine the cause. The test is very sensitive to any difference in bone metabolism. The ability to scan the entire skeleton makes a bone scan very helpful in diagnosing a wide range of bone disorders, including:
Paget’s disease of bone
Cancer originating in bone
Cancer that has metastasized to bone from a different site
Infection of the joints, joint replacements or bones (osteomyelitis)
Impaired blood supply to bones or death of bone tissue (avascular necrosis)