Bone Scan Definition

A bone scan is an imaging technique performed by injecting a small amount of radioactive marker (bone-seeking radionuclide) into an intravenous line. Three hours later, the patient is placed through a scanner with a 'gamma camera' and the radioactive marker will be concentrated in any region where there is high bone turnover called 'hot spots'.

A bone scan is a highly sensitive test to pick up tumors, infections, or very small fractures since these conditions all result in high bone turnover. A bone scan can detect arthritis and cancerous bone disease in patients as well as diagnose the location of unexplained bone pain.