A bone scan involves an injection of a radiopharmaceutical into a vein in the arm. This radiopharmaceutical moves from the blood into your bones, at which point scans are done.

Depending on what information your doctor requires, some initial images called Blood Pools may be done with you lying on a bed, and a Gamma camera placed near your body. You are asked to return approximately 2 – 4 hours later. This delay is to allow the radiopharmaceutical to move from the blood into your bones. When the delayed imaging is done, it may take from 20 minutes to an hour.

Before your Scan

There is no specific preparation involved. You can eat and drink as normal before and after the scan. We encourage extra fluid intake on the day of procedure.

Before the scan you may be asked to change into an examination gown for your comfort, and to ensure clothing does not affect the images and diagnostic quality of the scan. You may also be asked to remove jewellery, eye-glasses and any metal objects that might interfere with the images.

If there is a possibility of pregnancy, we prefer to delay the test unless it is necessary. Only clinically urgent scans assessed by your referring doctor and our specialised Nuclear Medicine doctors will go ahead.

Some tests may need to be changed if you are breastfeeding or you may need to avoid breastfeeding for up to 1 hour after the test. Please tell us when you make your booking, and we will discuss this with you.


Up to 5 hours in total, including the 2 – 4 hours when you can leave the department before returning for the imaging.

Risks / Side effects

Side effects from radiopharmaceuticals such as nausea, vomiting or a rash are very uncommon, occurring in approximately 1 in 10,000 people.

Other Information

After the test, the specialist will examine the results and send a report to your doctor.

Staff will advise you if there are any precautions you need to follow after your tests. For example, if you are breastfeeding, you may need to avoid breastfeeding for up to 1 hour after the test. It may be necessary to avoid close contact with pregnant women or young children for several hours after the test.

After the procedure, you can drive a car, and eat and drink normally.

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