Jason M. Gallina MD PC

Specialist in artificial disc replacement, non-fusion surgery and minimally invasive surgery

820 2nd Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10017
541 Cedar Hill Avenue
Wyckoff, NJ 07481
Phone: 212-616-4130 | Fax: 212-983-0483

Description | Indications | Mechanism | Limitations | Risks

Bone Scans - Spinal diagnostic test


A bone scan is a diagnostic test that utilizes a tracer or radioactive chemical, which is injected into the patient's blood stream. The injected radioactive chemical attaches to areas of new bone formation, and these are visible on skeletal pictures which are taken several hours after the injection.


Bone scans are indicated when it is necessary to picture the entire skeleton to determine problem areas. A concentration of chemical indicates increased bone making activity which is indicative of problem areas. Once a specific problematic area has been located, further diagnostic testing may be necessary to determine the exact nature of the problem.


The radioactive chemical tracer is injected into the patient's bloodstream through an IV line. The IV line is then removed, and the patient returns several hours later so that pictures can be taken of the skeleton. A special camera that detects radiation from the chemical tracer is utilized.


The bone scan only detects areas of increased new bone making, and does not provide detailed pictures of bones or soft tissues as do x-rays, CT scans or MRIs.


The chief risk to a bone scan is a possible allergic reaction to the radioactive chemical tracer. This is an unusual and uncommon reaction. The radioactive chemical tracer dissipates quickly from the body, usually within several hours after the test.

Related FAQs and Articles:

How does a bone scan work?