Bone Scan with SPECT/CT
A bone scan involves injecting a small amount of a radioactive substance that attaches to the bones. Images are then taken in what is called a "planar" format.
For a bone scan with SPECT/CT imaging, a "SPECT" scan is combined with a "CT" scan to help localize an area of abnormal activity that may be present on the planar bone scan image. This is usually performed towards the end of the second appointment.
For the SPECT (or single photon emission computed tomography) component, the nuclear medicine gamma camera rotates 360 degrees around the body and creates pictures based on the data it obtains. For the CT (or computed tomography) portion, the CT detector uses a lower dose of radiation to help the SPECT scan create a better image. These CT images can be electronically fused with the SPECT images to generate what is called a “SPECT/CT image.” These images are taken near the end of the second appointment of the bone scan. For more information about the uses of this exam, read the Knowledge Centre article Benefits of Nuclear Medicine Imaging for Foot and Ankle Injuries.
Your doctor may order a bone scan with SPECT/CT imaging for some of the following scenarios:
- Chronic back or neck pain: this exam may improve localization of any potential abnormal activity as well as provide guidance for potential pain therapy injections.
- Ankle and foot pain: this exam may be helpful if there is abnormal activity in people who have osteochondral injuries, chronic pain, or have had previous surgeries.
- Scaphoid (wrist) fracture: this exam may help improve localization of any abnormal activity identified on the regular bone scan.
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY EXAM?
- Please let your technologist know if you are claustrophobic prior to the start of the exam.
- Please notify your technologist if there is a chance you may be pregnant, or if you are nursing. If you are pregnant, the exam will need to be postponed. If you are uncertain, a blood test will be required to confirm you are not pregnant prior to starting the exam. This may delay or postpone your appointment if not obtained in advance.
- It’s important to keep hydrated. You can eat and drink normally, both before the exam and between your first and second appointments.
- Please let your physician or our team know if you have recently had a bismuth-containing medication such as Pepto-Bismol or if you have recently had a barium contrast exam up to four days prior to your study, as these agents may affect the bone scan results.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY EXAM?
- The bone scan involves two separate appointments booked on the same day.
- The first appointment will take approximately 15 minutes.
- During the first appointment, we will inject a radioactive material (radiopharmaceutical) into a vein, usually in your arm.
- Your technologist may take images while injecting, or immediately following the injection.
- During imaging, you will be asked to lie on your back on the imaging bed and the gamma camera will be placed over your body.
- After the injection, the technologist will remind you to drink fluids (e.g., water, juice, pop, coffee,or tea) to make sure you are hydrated. You can urinate as needed, since this can help with the appearance of the images. Urinating is also an important way for your body to remove the radiopharmaceutical.
- You are free to go about your daily activities in the waiting period between the first and second appointments; there are no restrictions, except to avoid strenuous physical activity. The second appointment is usually 2-5 hours after the first appointment. Your technologist will let you know when to return for the second appointment.
- During the second appointment, imaging will be performed without any additional injections. It will take approximately 30 minutes.
- During imaging, please hold as still as you can. You may breathe normally, but other movements can blur the images and make them more difficult to interpret. Please let your technologist know if you are not comfortably positioned on the bed. Any necessary SPECT/CT imaging will be performed towards the end of this appointment.
- The imaging parts of the exam are painless and you will be able to talk to your technologist throughout the procedure.
Additional x-rays may be performed to help the radiologist with their interpretation of your bone scan. If this is required, they usually are obtained after the bone scan is finished and may take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
WHEN WILL I GET MY RESULTS?
We do our best to have the specialized nuclear medicine physician interpret the data and forward the results to your doctor within two business days. If there is any additional urgency, please inform our team or technologists.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
This exam is covered under your Alberta Health Care Plan. It is not currently offered at our Saskatchewan clinic.
Now available – we recently upgraded our nuclear medicine services at Sunpark to better serve our patients. The new equipment will feature the latest technology, which provides higher quality images at a lower dose of radiation.