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What are the risks of having a bone scan?

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Quick Answer

Some of the risks of having a bone scan include rashes, severe allergic reactions and swelling, explains MedlinePlus. In addition, there is a very minimal risk of bleeding and infection at injection sites.

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Full Answer

A bone scan is used to detect abnormalities in bone tissue, explains Cancer Research UK. The imaging process is also referred to as a scintigram or a radionuclide scan. Bone scans involve the injection of very small amounts of a radioactive substance known as a radionuclide into the bloodstream. Because of the small amounts of radionuclide used, there is little risk of harm. The substance eventually concentrates inside bone tissue, particularly in those areas where bone is breaking down or being repaired. These areas of enhanced activity are known as hot spots and show up as dark areas on scans. Bone scans are used to diagnose disease and review effects of treatment.

Bone scans have very few risks, explains MedlinePlus. There is minimal pain during injection and a slight risk of bleeding on the injection site. Radiation levels are equivalent to those of conventional X-rays. The radionuclide is excreted by the body in a few days. Bone scans are typically not conducted on pregnant and lactating women to avoid exposing unborn children and infants to radiation.

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