Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.
Your Location is set to Change My Location
Cone Health wants to help you get well and stay well. This section provides tools and information to achieve good health and maintain your well-being.
Learn what community resources are available to help you get well and stay well.
View health and wellness news you can use from Cone Health providers on
View Advanced Search OptionsView All Doctors
View All Locations
Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Bone scan
Committed to Safety: As we resume services, we are taking all necessary precautions to keep you safe while we care for you. Limited visitation is now in place. Review all our visitor policies and precautions. Get more information on COVID-19.
A bone scan is a test that identifies new areas of bone growth or breakdown. It can be done to evaluate damage to the bones, detect cancer that has spread (metastasized) to the bones, and monitor conditions that can affect the bones (including infection and trauma).
During a bone scan, a small amount of radioactive substance (radionuclide) is injected into the bloodstream. A camera takes pictures of the location of the radioactive substance in the bone. Areas that absorb little or no amount of tracer appear as dark or "cold" spots. This could show a lack of blood supply to the bone or certain types of cancer. Areas of abnormal bone collect a lot of the radioactive substance and show up as "hot" spots on the picture. Hot spots may mean problems such as arthritis, a tumor, a fracture, or an infection. A bone scan can often detect a problem days to months earlier than a regular X-ray test.
Current as of: December 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Myo Min Han MD - Nuclear Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Subscribe to our Wellness Matters e-newsletter, a monthly snapshot of the some of great wellness content from Cone Health providers.