Gold Member Badge


  • You're all caught up!

Side Effects of a Bone Scan

author image Katina Coleman
Katina Coleman is a research psychologist who has been writing since 2004. She has published and reviewed articles in various academic journals and consults on research projects related to health and education. Her research interests center on patient-doctor communication and cancer health disparities. Coleman holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Wayne State University.
Side Effects of a Bone Scan
The bones tell a lot about a person's health. Photo Credit: bekisha/iStock/Getty Images

Bone scans serve several medical diagnostic purposes, according to They can diagnose bone tumors or cancer, detect if a patient’s cancer has spread, diagnose bone fractures and bone infections, determine the source of bone pain, and assess metabolic disorders. Before a bone scan, the patient is injected with a radioactive material that travels throughout his bloodstream into the bones and organs. A specially designed camera detects the radiation emitted by the material while scanning the body. Bone scans have minimal side effects and risks, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Video of the Day

Pain and Discomfort

Side effects associated with the bone scan procedure include pain and discomfort. The patient may feel pain as the IV containing the radioactive material is inserted into her vein. This pain is temporary. The patient may also experience discomfort from the requirements of the bone scan procedure, such as having to remain still and lying in certain positions for extended periods of time. Bone scans can last 30 to 60 minutes, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Allergic Reaction

Another side effect linked to bone scans is an allergic reaction. Some people have an allergic reaction to the radioactive material used in the injection during a bone scan. Symptoms include bleeding, skin redness, soreness or infection, according to

Radiation Exposure

The radioactive material used in a bone scan exposes the patient to radiation and represents another side effect of the procedure. reports, however, that the radiation exposure from bone scans is negligible and matches the risk of exposure presented by traditional X-rays. Nevertheless, radiation may remain in the body up to three days after the bone scan, according to

Nursing Mothers

A side effect for a nursing mother receiving a bone scan is the possibility that the radioactive material used in the injection may contaminate her breast milk, according to Nursing mothers should pump and discard their milk for two days following the bone scan to reduce the risk of passing the radioactive material to their nursing infant, according to

Additional Side Effects

Other potential side effects linked to bone scans include nausea, vomiting, rash and swelling.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media