Bone Scan (99m Technetium Skeletal Scintigraphy)

Author:  Gesche Tallen, MD, PhD, Editor:  Maria Yiallouros, Reviewer:  Prof. Dr. med. Dr. h. c. Günter Henze, English Translation:  Hannah McRae, Last modification: 2015/04/22

The bone or skeletal scintigraphy is one of the most commonly used nuclear imaging techniques in cancer medicine. In the diagnosis of children and adolescents, this method mainly serves to detect or rule out bone metastases.

In order to detect metastatic tissue, the patient receives an age-dependent dose of radioactive technetium (99mTc) intravenously, which is bound to a phosphate compound.

Phosphate is a natural constituent of bone. The phosphate-bound technetium accumulates wherever increased bone cell metabolism takes place. In healthy children, such an area would be growth plates in the joints, for example. However, increased bone metabolism also occurs as a result of diseases that affect the skeletal system, for example, bone infections, bone metastases, or bone tumours.

A special camera records images of the areas of interest. The radiation decays very rapidly.

Before any nuclear medical examination, the patient (as long as he or she is under 18 years of age) and his or her relatives must sign informed consent and be informed and debriefed about the examination by a radiologist.