What do white spots mean in a bone scan?
Credit:Harry SieplingaPhotographer's ChoiceGetty Images
Q:

What do white spots mean in a bone scan?

A:

Quick Answer

White spots show up on a bone scan around the dark spots, which indicate an increased accumulation of radioactive material from the scan. In other words, the white areas surround the dark areas that indicate various medical problems, including cancer and arthritis, depending upon where the dark spots appear. MedlinePlus states that an abnormal bone scan shows hot spots and/or cold spots in comparison to surrounding bone.

 Know More

Full Answer

A bone scan involves injecting a very small amount of radioactive material into a vein, explains MedlinePlus. The material runs through the blood to the bones, giving off some radiation that is detected by the camera in the scanner.

The Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library explains that hot spots occur with an increased accumulation of the radioactive material while cold spots occur in areas taking up less of the radioactive material. Hot spots may indicate the presence of conditions such as arthritis, malignant bone tumors, metastatic bone cancer, bone infections, bone trauma not seen on ordinary X-rays, and other conditions of the bone. In fact, doctors primarily use bone scans to detect the spread of metastatic cancer.

Cold spots may show a lack of blood supply to the bone or certain types of cancer, WebMD explains. The site adds that hot spots may point to problems such as arthritis, a tumor, a fracture or an infection.

Learn more about Diagnostics & Imaging

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the purpose of a bone scan?

    A:

    The purpose of a bone scan is to help diagnose problems with the bones, specifically problems with bone metabolism. It can indicate damage to the bones, locate cancer that has spread to the bones from other parts of the body, and monitor problems such as infection and trauma, notes Healthline.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What do dark spots on a bone scan mean?

    A:

    Conditions such as arthritis, bone cancer, bone infection and bone trauma can cause dark spots to show during a bone scan, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. These spots typically occur in areas where cells rapidly multiply.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is a bone density scan?

    A:

    A bone density scan is a test used to measure bone loss, according to the Radiological Society of North America. It is most often used to measure bone loss due to osteoporosis.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    How is a bone scan performed?

    A:

    During a bone scan, clothing and jewelry are removed, and a gown or sheet is placed to cover the patient, explains WebMD. An intravenous line is started, and a tracer is injected. This tracer is used to visualize the bones and is picked up by an imaging device.

    Full Answer >

Explore