Bone Scan

Bone scans are studies that detect local changes in bone metabolism. Because these changes can often be seen before any changes are detected on X-ray, the bone scan is considered more sensitive than X-rays for the detection of certain fractures, infections, and tumors in the bone.

You will receive an injection of a radioactive substance, usually in your arm. This material travels through the bloodstream, into the soft tissue, and then concentrates in the bones. The injection feels like any needle stick you might receive when blood tests are done, but other than that you will not feel anything from this injection. We may take some images at the time of the injection or we may wait for a few hours before we begin taking pictures.

Preparation for Your Exam

No special preparation is required before the bone scan. You will be asked to drink fluids in the three hours between injection and scan and to empty your bladder frequently. This helps to clear the injected material from your soft tissue and improves the quality of the bone scan.

During the Exam

Most of the bone scan images will be done approximately three hours after the injection. The pictures usually take a total of 30-60 minutes. There are a number of ways we can take images, but often the imaging uses a gamma camera positioned above and below you. The camera will scan the entire length of your body.

A SPECT (tomographic) study may be done to look at a particular area of your body in detail. This involves an additional 30 minutes of imaging while the camera rotates 360 degrees around you. In some instances X-rays may be needed to clarify bone scan findings.


Nuclear Medicine procedures are very safe. The radioactive material is quickly cleared from your body. The radiation dose from this test (0.13 rem) is similar to most routine X-ray procedures.

Making an Appointment

When you call, we'll ask you for basic information such as your Social Security number. We'll ask you what type of test you need to schedule, and will schedule you for the best possible time. If you need to reschedule your exam, you can call us back and we'll be happy to arrange a better time for you.

When you call to schedule your exam, we'll also give you important information about preparing for the exam. If your doctor has scheduled the exam for you, and you have questions regarding the preparation or the procedure itself, you can call the imaging department where your procedure is being performed (please refer to our 'Locations' page for exact phone numbers).

Your physician will have several tasks to perform:

Complete the necessary paperwork to order the test (similar to writing a prescription for medication)

Fax, mail, or place the order in our computer system

Call us to schedule a test for you or have your physician call us directly

Obtaining Your Images

Exam Image Availability

DRC's state-of-the-art PACS technology offers you immediate access to the images of your radiologic exam. No longer does your physician have to wait to have copies of your films made. Although we can still print your X-ray on film for you with just 24 hours notice, your physician can now review your exam images immediately via the Internet. We offer safe and secure web access for your physician through Specialty Networks. Your privacy and HIPAA compliance is assured.

Images on a CD

If your physician prefers, the digital images from your study can be written to a CD-ROM, giving him/her a permanent record that can be accessed easily and quickly via a computer. CDs hold multiple studies and take up significantly less space than the traditional film in the brown envelope. A 24-hour notice is also requested to create this digital record for you.

Versatile Image Viewing Options

Internet access to your studies for your doctor is available immediately after your pictures are taken. Copies of your images can be obtained on a CD or on film with 24 hours notice.

Both Internet and CD viewing offer your physician the ability to digitally adjust your images in ways not possible with traditional X-ray film. Using the computer, the image can be made lighter or darker or zoomed for better visualization of a particular portion, for example. Your physician can fine-tune the images to accommodate his or her preferences.

Obtaining Copies of Your Images

To receive a CD or film copies of exam images, please follow these steps:

1. Call the location where your examination was performed (please refer to the locations page). Please provide your name and other identifying information along with the study being requested. With 24 hours notice, we can either create a CD-ROM or print a film for you. Our representative at the imaging center will provide you with the times available to pick up the exam.

2. To protect your privacy, please be sure to bring a picture ID when you pick up your CD/films, you will have to sign a Medical Images Release form when receiving your CD/films. If anyone else picks up your CD/films for you, please be sure to give him or her your written authorization to release your information to him or her.

3. If you would like us to send a copy of your study to a physician outside the DRC system, we will need a signed release from you along with the study you would like sent and the receiving doctor's name and address. You can fax or deliver us that release in the form of a signed letter at the fax number listed on the locations page. Please allow us plenty of time to send your films.

Any Costs

Currently the first set of films is provided at no cost to the patient. There is no charge for CD-ROM's and, of course, the Internet is always free.


For the convenience of our patients, we offer Imaging Scans at several DRC locations:

Battlefield Imaging
Chattanooga Outpatient Center
Diagnostic Center
Diagnostic PET/CT of Chattanooga
Hutcheson Medical Center
Tennessee Imaging & Vein Center