What does a bone scan show?

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A bone scan has the ability to scan someone's entire skeleton and see if there are any abnormalities in their bone's metabolism.

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What Bone Scans Might Show

A bone scan may indicate the spread of cancer into the bone, help diagnosis bone pain, pinpoint a fracture and find damage caused to the bone by various diseases.

Things a Bone Scan Could Help Diagnose

Some abnormalities that a bone scan may show include fractures, arthritis, metabolic disorders, bone tumours, infections of the joints and fibrous dysplasia.

Why Bone Scans are Useful

Since bone scans can pick up subtle issues within a bone's metabolism, they are very useful in assisting doctors with a wide array of diagnoses.

Hot and Cold Spots

Evidence of abnormal bone metabolism is indicated by dark or "hot" spots. The hot spots indicate that the radioactive material put into the body during testing has accumulated in certain problem areas and indicates to a radiologist that there is a problem. Light or "cold" spots indicate that the radioactive material hasn't accumulated in certain areas and that there aren't any issues with the bone's metabolism in those areas.

What Normal Bone Scans Show

A normal bone scan shows the skeleton as a uniform colour throughout, meaning that the radioactive substance did not accumulate in any problem area

Bone Scans and Other Indicators

A bone scan in itself cannot specifically show enough to make a diagnosis. A bone scan must be evaluated in conjunction with other symptoms and/or types of tests. It is important that any abnormal bone scan results be discussed with your primary care provider.

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