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A bone scan is a test that detects areas of increased or decreased bone activity. Although bones seem solid and permanent they are really living and changing all of the time to meet the needs of the body. Bone is constantly breaking down, repairing or remodeling itself. The gamma camera used in a bone scan picks up these areas of activity that are called “hot spots.”
Bone scans are done to identify abnormal processes involving the bones and joints. Detecting areas of abnormal bone metabolism is valuable in determining whether there is associated tumor, fracture, infection or an underlying metabolic disorder.
An infection or stress fracture in the bone can be identified with a bone scan days or even weeks before it would appear on an X-ray.
There is no special preparation for this scan. You may eat and drink whatever you like.
You must remove jewelry and other metal objects. You may be asked to wear a hospital gown.
For a more in depth look at this procedure, visit our Health Library page on bone scans.