Are Frequent Bone Scans Really Necessary?

The first important fact that you should realize about a bone scan is that it is serious medicine.  How serious?  If a doctor tells you that you need a bone scan, if the situation allows, seek out at least one additional opinion.  Why?  Bone scans involve the use of nuclear medicine, and for this reason you should treat bone scan technology very seriously.

Bone Scan Technology is Serious Business
The way this medicinal technology works is that patients are injected with a radioactive substance and then a "gamma camera" is used for imaging purposes.  In short, you need to know that this test is absolutely necessary and that you just don't have other good options.

Bone scans are often used instead of x-rays primarily due to the fact that they are able to detect issues, such as fractures, that x-rays simply can't spot.  In addition to fractures, the nature of bone scan technology is such that it can "spot" other issues such as tumors or even, surprisingly, infections as well.  In general, bone scan technology is able to spot a range of irregularities within the body that other technologies may miss.  With that stated, however, it is important that you don’t simply opt for regular bone scans without first getting at least one additional opinion due to the nature of the technology used.  If your doctor is advocating numerous or frequent bone scans, you should at least know that other doctors agree with this assessment.

Recommended for Bone Related Issues, Tumors and Cancers
Bone scans are often recommended if you have skeletal pain, bone infections or other bone related issues.  Commonly, this technology is used for the diagnosis of different forms of cancer including prostate cancer and breast cancer.  This is due to the fact that bone scans are able to spot tumors.

If you are told that you need a bone scan, it is important that you understand why.  It is also important that you ask your doctor to explain why bone scan technology must be used instead of other, potentially less harmful, technology.  You should question if you have other diagnostic options at your disposal and what those options may be.  While the technology is nuclear in nature, there is also no denying that it is very effective at spotting certain types of problems, such as tumors.

Wide Scale Claims of Safety
The good news is that proponents of the technology state that it is extremely safe and comes with little to no risks.  However, it is your responsibility as a patient to be well educated regarding your options and your care.  This means asking questions, changing doctors if necessary, and getting additional opinions.  After all, it is your health at stake and not the doctor's health.

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