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Bone Scan with SPECT/CT

A bone scan involves injecting a small amount of a radioactive substance that attaches to the bones. Images are then taken in what is called a “planar” format.

For a bone scan with SPECT/CT imaging, a “SPECT” scan is combined with a non-diagnostic “CT” scan to help localize an area of abnormal activity that may be present on the planar bone scan image. This is usually performed towards the end of the second appointment.

For the SPECT (or single photon emission computed tomography) component, the nuclear medicine gamma camera rotates 360 degrees around the body and creates pictures based on the data it obtains. For the CT (or computed tomography) portion, the CT detector uses a lower dose of radiation to help the SPECT scan create a better image. These CT images can be electronically fused with the SPECT images to generate the SPECT/CT image. These images are taken near the end of the second appointment of the bone scan.

Your doctor may order a bone scan with SPECT/CT imaging for some of the following scenarios:

  • Ankle and foot pain: This exam may be helpful if there is abnormal activity in people who have osteochondral injuries, chronic pain, or have had previous surgeries.
  • Chronic back or neck pain: This exam may improve localization of any potential abnormal activity, as well as provide guidance for potential pain therapy injections.
  • Scaphoid (wrist) fracture: This exam may help improve localization of any abnormal activity identified on the regular bone scan.


  • Please notify your technologist if there is a chance you may be pregnant, or if you are nursing. If you are pregnant, the exam will need to be postponed. If you are uncertain, a blood test will be required to confirm you are not pregnant prior to starting the exam. This may delay or postpone your appointment if not obtained in advance.
  • It’s important to keep hydrated. You can eat and drink normally, both before the exam and between part one and part two of your appointment.
  • Please let your technologist know if you are claustrophobic prior to your exam.
  • This is a two-part appointment booked on the same day.
  • During part one, we will inject a radioactive material (radiopharmaceutical) into a vein in your arm. Part one will take approximately 10-15 minutes and you may leave the clinic until the time you are scheduled to return for part two. You will be given a specific return time.
  • For part two, you will be asked to return to the clinic about 2-4 hours from the time the injection was administered in part one. Part two will take approximately 45 minutes.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before each part of your appointment to allow enough time to check in with reception.
  • Bring photo identification and your provincial health card.
  • Wear comfortable clothes.
  • Please do not bring children who require supervision.


  • This is a two-part appointment booked on the same day.
  • The first part of your appointment will take approximately 15 minutes.
  • During part one, we will inject a radioactive material (radiopharmaceutical) into a vein in your arm.
  • Your technologist may take a few images while injecting, or immediately following the injection of, the radiopharmaceutical.
  • For the images, you will be asked to lie on your back on the imaging bed and the gamma camera will be placed over your body.
  • After the injection, the technologist will remind you to drink fluids (e.g., water, juice, pop, coffee, or tea) to make sure you are hydrated. You can urinate as needed, since this can help with the appearance of the images. Urinating is also an important way for your body to remove the radiopharmaceutical.
  • You are free to go about your daily activities in the waiting period between the first and second parts of your appointment; there are no restrictions, except to avoid strenuous physical activity. This time is needed for the injected radiopharmaceutical to attach to your bones.
  • The second part of your appointment is usually 2-4 hours after part one. Your technologist will let you know when to return.
  • During part two, there is no injection; only imaging will be performed. This will take approximately 45 minutes.
  • During the imaging, please hold as still as you can. You may breathe normally, but movement can blur the images and make them more difficult to interpret. Please let your technologist know if you are not comfortably positioned on the bed. Any necessary SPECT/CT imaging will be performed towards the end of this appointment.
  • The scan is painless, and you will be able to talk to your technologist throughout the procedure.


Additional X-rays may be performed to help the radiologist with their interpretation of your bone scan. If this is required, they usually are obtained after the bone scan is finished and may take approximately 30 minutes to complete.


We do our best to have the specialized nuclear medicine physician interpret the data and forward the results to your doctor within two business days. If there is any additional urgency, please inform our team.


This exam is covered under your Alberta Health Care Plan. It is not currently offered at our Saskatchewan clinics.


Please ensure that you bring your requisition with you to your appointment.


Part 1: 15 minutes
Part 2: 45 minutes
*Two-part appt., imaging booked 2-4 hours apart