Nuclear Scintigraphy (Bone Scan) FAQ's
I am considering having a bone scan (nuclear scintigraphy study)
performed on my horse. How long does the procedure take, and how
is it performed?
Question: I am considering having a bone scan
(nuclear scintigraphy study) performed on my horse. How long does
the procedure take, and how is it performed?
Answer: Scintigraphy or "bone scanning" is a
technology taken directly from the human medical field. A low-dose
benign radioactive isotope is injected intravenously. The isotope
has an affinity for inflamed/injured/remodeling bone. The actual
scan is conducted hours after the isotope is injected. The bone
scanner then "reads" the amount of isotope present in the bone
and makes an image of the bones being evaluated. The picture looks
like an anatomical silhouette where "darker" areas represent bone
remodeling and/or inflammation.
In order to conduct the bone scan, the horse is required to stay
in the hospital for at least 24 hours after the time it is injected.
For this reason, horses scheduled for bone scans must arrive the
day prior to the scan, or early on the day of the scan, and the
horse stays in the clinic overnight the day of the scan. Frequently,
any "follow-up" work (such as X-rays or ultrasound) is done the
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