Scintigraphy is an advanced imaging technique used to evaluate certain skeletal anomalies. It uses radioactive indicators that identify changes in bone metabolism before they become visible on radiographs — for example, to detect bone fractures.
The procedure can identify problems in any part of the skeleton, but is particularly useful in areas where clinical examination, including diagnostic analgesia, is often difficult, for example, the pelvis and back.
What is bone scan
Skeletal scintigraphy is a special type of diagnosis that uses a small amount of radioactive material to assess the severity of various diseases and bone conditions, including fractures, infections, and cancer.
The diagnostic procedure is non-invasive and, with the exception of intravenous injection, is usually painless. The device uses radioactive materials called radiopharmaceuticals or radioisotopes.
Radioactive energy emitted by a radio receiver is detected by a special camera or imaging device that creates a snapshot of bones called scintigrams. The bone anomaly is shown in the image as a blackout.
Since the procedure is able to depict the functions of the organism at the molecular level, it makes it possible to identify the disease at the earliest stages, therefore, to select the most effective treatment.
In fact, skeletal scintigraphy or bone scan can often detect bone anomalies much earlier than normal radiographic examination.
Indications and contraindications for the procedure
Bone scans cannot identify some types of cancer. Occasionally, additional bone tests may be required to visualize the pathology when scanning bones, such as CT, MRI, blood tests, or biopsy to help distinguish between normal and abnormal bone. Diagnostic procedures can take a long time - up to several hours. Among the contraindications for bone scintigraphy is worth noting: the period of breastfeeding, pregnancy, diseases of the cardiovascular system, pathological changes of the central nervous system, a tendency to allergies.
Doctors prescribe bone scintigraphy if necessary:
- confirm or deny the presence of cancers in the bone tissue;
- diagnose the cause or location of unexplained bone pain, such as persistent back pain;
- locate the damaged bone in complex bone structures, such as the foot or spine;
- diagnose broken bones, such as a hip fracture;
- find bone damage caused by infection or other conditions such as Paget's disease.
Bone Scintigraphy Preparation
This diagnostic procedure does not require special training. A month before the diagnosis, it is necessary to completely abandon contact with iodine-containing products. For a month, you need to abandon the medicines, which include bromine (some cough medicines and drugs for sedation). Blockers must be abandoned for patients with serious heart rhythm disorders.
Algorithm of the procedure
In conventional X-ray examinations, an image is made by passing X-rays through the patient’s body. During bone scintigraphy, a radioactive material called a radiopharmaceutical (RFP) or radioactive isotope is used that is injected into the blood, ingested, or inhaled as a gas.
This radioactive material accumulates in the organ or body region under study, where it releases a small amount of energy in the form of gamma rays. Special cameras detect this energy, then using the computer to create images with detailed pathological changes.
The doctor enters the patient's radiopharmaceuticals and releases him home for at least three hours. In the waiting period, you should try to drink at least one and a half liters of water in order to significantly increase the speed of cleansing the body from radionuclides. Before the procedure, it is imperative to empty the bladder.
The patient is placed in a sitting or lying position on a couch. It is important in the diagnostic process not to move and not to talk. In the study study there is no one except the patient, all medical workers are in the adjacent room, from where the monitoring and diagnostics process is performed.
A gamma camera that captures changes in bone tissue is a large crystal that simultaneously scans the entire body. Data from the camera is transferred to the computer and interpreted into a graphic image. It is recommended to choose modern best medical centers for the procedure, which actively use scintigraphy for bone diagnosis.
The results can be taken from the radiologist in a day. The photographs will fully display the human skeleton, which allows to assess the general condition of the patient's skeleton, as well as the number and location of metastases. Diagnosis helps not only to determine the focus of the disease, but also to determine its type: benign or malignant.
After the procedure, each patient is recommended to take a slightly warm shower with gel or soap, while thoroughly washing the hair with shampoo, and send the clothes to the wash. All consumables: bandages, cotton pads or balls, are sent to the scrap, they are not rushing home at all. In order to quickly remove the RFP from the body, it is recommended to drink plenty of water. It is worth noting that it is recommended that the patient, on the first day after the diagnosis, limit contact with children, women in the situation and those who breast feed children.