Q:

How is a bone scan performed?

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Quick Answer

During a bone scan, clothing and jewelry are removed, and a gown or sheet is placed to cover the patient, explains WebMD. An intravenous line is started, and a tracer is injected. This tracer is used to visualize the bones and is picked up by an imaging device.

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Full Answer

It takes 2 to 5 hours for the tracer to accumulate in the bones, during which time the patient is asked to drink 4 to 6 glasses of water to wash the excess tracer out of the body, according to WebMD. If the bone scan is done to detect infection, the technician may perform several scans immediately after the tracer is introduced, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Right before the procedur,e the patient is asked to empty the bladder because its contents can distort the results of the scan, explains Johns Hopkins Medicine. The patient is then asked to lie down on a scanning table and remain still unless a change in position is required. When the process begins, a scanner moves slowly over the body and collects images.

The actual procedure takes about 1 hour and is painless, notes Johns Hopkins Medicine. After, the bone scan patients are asked to drink plenty of fluids and empty their bladder frequently for 24 to 48 hours.

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