Bone scintigraphy

What is a bone scan?

A bone scan is a nuclear medicine examination that enables the analysis of the functioning of all bones and joints. The principle consists in using a slightly radioactive product comparable to calcium, which is a mineral that is normally used for bone function. The product used for this type of examination will therefore bind to the bones and joints, allowing for detecting any active bone pathology.

What is the purpose of a scintigraphy?

This examination enables us to identify the cause of joint pain, for example, or to detect a fracture, arthritis, possible bone metastases... One of this examination’s advantages is that it allows for the entire skeleton to be "photographed" while minimizing the radiation dose received.

How to prepare for it?

No preparation is necessary, there is no need to fast, and usual medication can be taken.


Once the product is injected, a waiting period of 3-4 hours during which you are free to come and go, as well as normal physical activity is necessary for a good bone fixation of the tracer.

The exam takes about 20 minutes.


Once the 3-4-hour delay has elapsed, pictures are taken with a special camera that moves around the patient, who is still lying. This step takes about 15 minutes. Sometimes the procedure is completed with additional pictures to taken so as to better analyze a region. There are no undesirable effects to the injection.

Risks and inconveniences

The examination is painless, the injection of the product is similar to a blood test. The quantity of radioactive product is very small and therefore, harmless. The possible disadvantage is the waiting time between the injection and the images.

The return home

You can resume your activities, including work. You can eat and drink normally. It is recommended to avoid close and prolonged contact with pregnant women and young children for 6 hours after the examination. If you are breastfeeding, as a precaution for the baby, you should stop breastfeeding for 4 hours after the injection of the radioactive product. For this reason, it is advisable to breastfeed just before the injection.


In principle, scintigraphy is contraindicated in pregnant women.


Nuclear Medicine Consultation Secretariat

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