Bone scans for children

Boy going into a scanner

An injection of radioactive dye that can show up any cancer cells on a scan picture. 

Before the test
The dye may be injected through the Hickman line. If  the Hickman line cannot be used a very small tube (cannula) will be put into one of your child’s veins, usually in the hand. Your child will have to wait for around 2 hours after the injection and then the scan will be done. It can help to bring something to entertain your child to help pass the time while they’re waiting for the scan. 

Younger children may be sedated or given a general anaesthetic before the test, as it’s important that they lie very still during the scan. If they have a general anaesthetic they will need to fast (not eat or drink) for a time before the scan.

During the test
Your child will lie on an X-ray table. A camera will then scan your child’s whole body. Abnormal bone absorbs more radioactivity than normal bone, so these areas will show up on the scan as areas of activity, known as ‘hot spots’. 

Does it hurt?
Your child may feel a little prick if they have an injection. 

How long does it take?
It usually takes an hour to take all the pictures.

After the test
Your child should be able to go home straight after the scan. If your child has had a general anaesthetic they can go home once they have recovered from the anaesthetic. 

Are there risks / side-effects?

  • The scan is safe, but there will be radioactivity in your child’s bodily fluids such as wee, poo and vomit for 24 hours. They should wash their hands well after going to the toilet. 
  • If your child is in nappies, dispose of them carefully in the outside bin. 
  • Wash your hands very carefully after changing nappies or if you come into contact with your child’s poo, wee or vomit. Avoid contact with these if you are pregnant or might be pregnant.

For more information

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1800 200 700

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