What you and your child can expect
When your child is scheduled for a radiology test, both you and your child may have questions about it. We encourage parents to read this information, then talk about the test with your child.
What is a bone scan?
This test studies the bones in your child's body to detect fractures, infections, or other bone abnormalities. This test uses nuclear medicine equipment. A radioisotope liquid is injected into your child's vein and then travels through the blood stream to the bones. A small amount of the radioisotope is used, and your child will not feel any side effects from the injection. The radioisotope loses its radioactivity in hours. Once inside the body, the radioisotope gives off gamma rays (invisible radiation), which are detected by the camera and become visible on film.
How is the test performed?
A technologist will bring you and your child into an examination room, where your child will be asked to lie on a table. A small amount of a radioisotope liquid will be injected into your child's vein. No sedation is done at the time of this injection. Some pictures may be taken at this time. It is important for your child to remain still while the pictures are being taken.
The liquid takes about 2 hours to travel to the bones. You and your child may leave the hospital during this time.
Children younger than 3 and those with special needs will probably need sedation, so they must not have anything to eat or drink before the test. If your child's exam is scheduled with sedation, a radiology nurse will call you before the exam with instructions. Plan for a "wake up" period after the test, if sedation is used. Older children may eat and drink, if no other test requiring fasting is being done.
At the scheduled time, you and your child will return for more pictures of your child's bones.
After the bone scan is complete, a radiologist will check the pictures to make sure they are complete. The results will be sent to your child's doctor.
How do I tell my child about this test?
Because you know your child best, explain this test to your child in a way that he will understand before you come to Children's. The staff also will explain the procedure to you and your child before and during the test.
Will it hurt?
For many children, the most important thing to know is whether or not this test will hurt. Assure your child that although there may be some discomfort, it will only last a few minutes. Remind your child that this test is being done to help the doctor find out how her body is working inside. By talking about the test with your child, you may help her be more comfortable during the test, which will make the procedure easier for your child and you.
Does my child have to do anything different before the test?
Unless otherwise specified by your child's doctor, your child may continue normal eating, drinking, sleeping, and medicine before the test. Allow 4 hours total for the injection, waiting time, and bone scan.
If you have had X-rays taken at a different hospital or clinic, bring them to your bone scan appointment.
Children younger than 3 will be scheduled with sedation. Please let the scheduling person know if you have an older child with special needs.
Children under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
What can my child expect after the test?
The injection site might be sore or slightly bruised. A warm pack will help provide relief. Your child may resume normal activity and diet.
If your child was sedated, refer to the "Sedation for a Procedure" handout given to you by your nurse.
General radiology requirements
- Pregnant mothers: Women who are pregnant can't be in the exam room. They must have a family member or friend over the age of 18 accompany their child into the examination room during the exam (with the exception of the ultrasound and nuclear medicine rooms).
- Family or friends under the age of 18 years old: If you are not the patient and under the age of 18 years old you will not be allowed to remain in the radiology exam room during the exam.
- Siblings: Siblings are not allowed in the radiology room while the exam is being performed (with the exception of the ultrasound rooms). Please make arrangements to have an adult accompany them in the waiting room.
- Attire: Children wearing clothing with snaps or buttons will need to change into hospital attire. Any item such as jewelry, undergarments with metal, or EKG patches in affected area will be removed prior to the exam.