A bone scan is a test used to find problems in the bones or joints. Special pictures are taken after a medicine is injected into a vein. The medicine is called a radiopharmaceutical (a tiny amount of a radioactive liquid). The pictures show the medicine in the bones.
Before the Bone Scan
Before coming to the hospital, explain to your child what will happen during the test to the best of your ability. For young children, use simple words and explain only shortly before the test.
Children age 5 and under may require sedation for their procedure. If sedation is necessary, a nurse or doctor will explain it to you. You will be given certain eating and drinking restrictions necessary to complete the exam. The day of the exam, a parent or guardian needs to be present to sign informed consent for sedation.
If your child is an infant, it is helpful to bring along a bottle of formula or juice with you for after the test. It is also recommended that you bring a pacifier, blanket or special toy to help calm your baby.
For older children, it is helpful to bring a book, toy or DVD to play with while waiting. It is helpful to have another caregiver for your child's siblings. For young children or babies, it is a good idea to bring a stroller.
During the Bone Scan
A technologist will place a small needle called an IV into a vein in your child's hand or foot. The needle hurts for just a moment. When the needle is in, the medicine is injected into a vein. Then, the child will lie on a soft table, and one or two pictures may be taken.
After these pictures, there is a two hour wait before more pictures are taken. You may wait in the waiting area or go for a walk.
Children 5 years and older who are not being sedated may drink as much clear fluid as possible while waiting. Give her water, juices, fruit punch or soft drinks.
After two hours, you and your child will return to the nuclear medicine area and the test will continue. They will need to lie still on a soft table while a special camera is used to take pictures from above and below. They may need a safety belt to help lie still. During this time your child may watch a DVD.
It will take at least one hour and sometimes two hours to take all of the pictures. During this time, the camera will not hurt or touch your child. You will be able to stay with her during the entire test.
It is possible that during the procedure your child may experience some discomfort. Please tell the doctor, nurse or technologist if pain occurs.
After the Bone Scan
The child eliminates the medicine from her body by urinating. They should drink plenty of fluids and urinate often to help clear it from the body. It should be completely out of your child’s body within 24 hours.
As always, you and your child should wash your hands after the child urinates or when handling urine-soaked diapers or sheets.
After the test, your child may return to regular daily activities and meals. If they had sedation medicine, they will be monitored by a nurse in the recovery room until they wake.
This amount of time is often unpredictable depending on the amount of sedation medicine given. It is common for children to sleep two hours after the medicine is given.
A nurse will give you special instructions. Results of the test will be available to your child's doctor within 24 hours.
Technology & Scanners
The pictures will be taken by a Siemens ECam. The open gantry design and feet-in imaging helps your child to feel more comfortable and allows them to watch a movie. The camera has two detectors, one which will be above your child and one which will be under them during the pictures.