Radiology | Diagnostic Radiology Questions Nuclear Medicine

Confused MRI and nuclear bone scan?

I have been having back pain in my lower right back for the past few months. I went to the orthopedic urgent care and they did an x-ray and said I had degenerated disc in my lower back. They referred me to the orthopedic surgeon to review. The doctor sent me for an MRI period on the day of the MRI about two hours afterward I received a call that they wanted to schedule me and it was urgent for a nuclear bone scan because I have lesions on my bones. That has been scheduled. My question is, do they already know it’s cancer and are just looking to see if it is metastasized from somewhere else or is the nuclear bone scan to determine whether it is cancer or not?

Male | 55 years old
Complaint duration: 3 months
Conditions: Parkinson’s , past heart attack with stents

4 Answers

A nuclear bone scan following an MRI for nonspecific bone lesions is recommended to further evaluate the lesions for radiotracer uptake which can strengthen, confirm or exclude malignancy as their cause. Nuclear bone scan may also detect additional heretofore undetected bone lesions that can change treatment and prognosis.
They don’t know yet
Just gathering information
You may need a biopsy

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In general, a bone scan is a quick way to look for skeletal involvement with regard to an oncologic diagnosis.  However, a bone scan does not specifically diagnose cancer.  It identifies areas of the skeletal system that have increased metabolic activity. 
Most likely the latter