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Bone Scan

A bone scan can help your physician diagnose damage and other abnormalities in your bones. During the test, a radioactive solution is injected into the bloodstream, which travels to your bones. A special camera then photographs the area of interest or does a whole body scan. Areas where bone is breaking down or repairing itself tend to absorb the most solution. These will be bright spots in the pictures, while those with reduced blood flow will appear dark or black. Your doctor may order a bone scan to check for infections, cancer that has spread to the bones from other parts of the body, or causes of unexplained bone pain, as well as to diagnose and monitor various other bone diseases and conditions. Bone scans detect changes in your bones before they would show up on an X-ray.

Planning for a Bone Scan

What to Expect for a Bone Scan

Before Your Appointment

  • Please pre-register for your appointment by calling 978-937-6429 Monday - Friday, 7:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. or anytime online at Express Registration.
  • An Appointment Reminder with specific instructions for your exam will be mailed to you.
  • Please remember to bring the written order from your physician. You must provide a doctor's order/referral form when you check in at the front desk.
  • Obtain copies of any recent films or scans performed at another facility to bring to the exam.
  • Women should inform their physicians if there's a possibility they might be pregnant.
  • If you have your doctor's order/referral form and have registered, please proceed directly to the Radiology Department on the ground floor for your exam.
  • For questions regarding your scheduled exam, contact the Radiology Department at 978-937-5254, 978-937-5255 or 978-937-6240.

Exam Preparation

Please note that this exam requires you to stay in the testing area for as long as 4 hours. You may bring reading materials, hand-crafts, crossword puzzles or other diversions to help you pass the time during your wait.

No special preparation is required before this test.

During the Procedure

When you arrive for your appointment, a small amount of a radioactive solution will be injected into your arm. To allow enough time for the solution to settle in your bones, you will then be required wait for 2-4 hours before the scan is performed. During that time, you may sit and read or walk around and should try to drink plenty of fluids to flush out the unabsorbed solution. You will be asked to empty your bladder immediately before the scan. To avoid blurring the images, you will need to remain very still.

After the Procedure

You may return to your normal routine.

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