What Are Normal & Abnormal Bone Scan Results?

Updated July 19, 2017

A bone scan is a medical imaging test that doctors use to identify areas of a patient’s bones with abnormal rates of bone metabolism. Physicians use bone scans with abnormal results to help them diagnose different medical conditions.


According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a patient has a radioactive tracer substance injected into his bloodstream and a camera scans the patient’s bones a few hours later.

Normal Results

A bone scan image with normal results shows the same shade of grey in all of a patient’s bones, according to Normal results indicate an even absorption level of the tracer substance in all of a patient’s bones.

Abnormal Results

Abnormal bone scans may include black coloured or "hot" areas of bone with higher than normal absorption of the tracer substance and white or light coloured or "cold" areas of bone with below normal levels of tracer accumulation, according to

Identifiable Abnormalities

Doctors may use abnormal bone scan results to help diagnose conditions such as bone tumours, bone fractures or degenerative bone diseases, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Additional Tests

Physicians may conduct tests such as a biopsy of a bone area that showed abnormal bone scan results or additional imaging tests such as a magnetic resonance imaging test or a computerised tomography test to confirm a diagnosis of a medical condition, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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Eric Smith has been a freelance writer since 2007 and has published articles on various websites. Smith specializes in a wide variety of topics, particularly health, travel and business. He has a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Oakland University.