Your Child's Bone Scan

Nuclear Medicine Department, Turner Diagnostic Centre

Colchester General Hospital, Turner Road, Colchester, CO4 5JL, 01206 742337/742367

Children’s Outpatient Department 01206 746177


Your child has been given an appointment to come for a bone scan.

We hope this leaflet will provide you with useful information and answer any questions you may have.

More Information

A bone scan is a way of looking at your child’s bones in detail. It checks to see if there are any abnormalities that need to be treated or monitored in the future.

A radioactive tracer is injected into a vein in the hand. This substance is specially prepared so that it concentrates into the bones. It gives off gamma rays so that pictures can be obtained by using a gamma camera.

You will be asked to attend the Children’s Outpatient Department so your child can be prepared for the scan. Your appointment letter will give you details of the time. The Children’s Outpatient Department is marked on the hospital map on the back of this leaflet.

If your child is having any other tests today, such as X-rays, ultrasound scans or blood tests, please inform the receptionist in the Children’s Outpatient Department.

Your child may eat or drink normally on the day of the scan.

Your child will not be asked to undress for the scan but any large metal objects, such as belt buckles, may need to be removed. The procedure is not uncomfortable.

If for any reason you will be unable to keep your appointment, please inform the Nuclear Medicine Department as soon as possible on 01206 742337.

Please come at the time specified. Please try to avoid bringing any other children under the age of 16 to this appointment.

On arrival, your child will be weighed and have his or her blood pressure taken. A play specialist will explain what will happen during the scan and help you and your child using pictures and play.

A small tube called a cannula will be inserted into a vein by a doctor or nurse. Anaesthetic spray will be used to make this as painless as possible. The play specialist will support you and your child throughout this procedure.

You and your child will be escorted to the Nuclear Medicine Department, where a technician will explain what they are going to do.

Girls aged 12 years and over will be asked about their periods and any possibility that they could be pregnant. You will be asked to sign a consent form for the procedure.

A small amount of radioactive tracer will be injected through the cannula, which will then be removed. Most of the substance is slowly taken up by the bones over a period of 21-3 hours. Some of it comes out through the child’s urine.

You will be given a time to return to the Nuclear Medicine Department for the scan to be performed. You may go home or stay in the Children’s Outpatient Department.

Your child should be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids before the scan time and it is advised that he or she empties the bladder frequently.

Snacks and drinks are available at the hospital either in the restaurant or at the League of Hospital Friends Shop at the main entrance.

Your child will be asked to empty his or her bladder just before the Delinning of the scan. Depending on your child’s age, the images are been while your child is either sitting on a chair, standing up or lying on a couch.

Each image takes 5-10 minutes. During this time your child will need to keep as still as possible and breathe normally. You can be with your child throughout.

A play specialist is available to read with your child to help with distraction or you may wish to bring a favourite toy, book or DVD After all the images are complete you will be able to go home or return to the ward if your child is an inpatient.

The results from the test will show the bones status and will enable the consultant to decide on the most appropriate treatment for your child.

There is a very small radiation dose involved in this procedure – much lower than a normal X-ray, although it is necessary to take some precautions for the first 24 hours after the test, while the tracer substance is leaving the body: 

  • your child should drink plenty of fluids. This will allow the tracer substance to pass as quickly as possible; 
  • if your child is toilet trained, he or she should go to the toilet as often as possible; 
  • if your child is in nappies, you should change them frequently and dispose of nappies in an outside bin. Wash your hands thoroughly after nappy changing; 
  • your child should continue to take any medicines as usual. The tracer fluid will not affect them in any way.


The results will be discussed with you at your next doctor’s appointment or sent to your GP. Please do not ring the Children’s Unit or the Nuclear Medicine Department for the results.

Please do not hesitate to contact any of the numbers on the front of this leaflet if you require further information.

When your child attends hospital you will be asked for his or her NHS number and other information, such as your address. Please be patient with this procedure as it is to ensure our records are kept up to date and to protect your child’s safety. If you do not know his or her NHS number, please don’t worry, he or she will still receive care.

Parking is sometimes difficult and the main public car park at Colchester General Hospital is situated some distance from several departments. Please allow adequate time so that you and anyone with you can arrive together, unflustered. A ticket system is in operation so please bring change for the ticket machine.

Colchester Park and Ride is located opposite the Weston Homes Community Stadium (at J28 of the A12) and the buses stop outside the back of the hospital. It runs from 7 am-7 pm, Monday to Saturday. For more information see or call 0345 743 0430.

Please raise any concerns in the ward or department you are in. Ask to speak with the ward sister, matron or department manager. If your concerns cannot be resolved or you wish to make a formal complaint, please call PALS (Patient Advice & Liaison Service) on 0800 783 7328, pick up a PALS leaflet.

If you or a family member has recently been in Colchester Hospital, you can tell us about your experience by clicking on or by filling in a ‘Friends & Family’ questionnaire at the hospital.

Cash point machines are available at Colchester General Hospital for use by patients, visitors and staff. One is located in the main corridor on the ground floor 40 metres from the main entrance. Another is inside Senses Restaurant on the first floor and the third is in the entrance to Gainsborough Wing, on the ground floor.