NaF PET/CT Bone Scans

Bone scans using radioactive tracers can provide detailed information on the spread of cancer to the bones. That’s why patients with cancers have traditionally received bone scans using Single-Photon Emission Computed Topography (SPECT) technology.

Now there’s a revolutionary alternative. Using a new kind of tracer called F-18 sodium fluoride (NaF), a bone scan from Positron Emission Tomography with Computed Tomography (PET/CT) provides more accurate information in less time.

A Better Test for Bone Imaging

Particularly helpful in determining the presence of bone metastases in patients with cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, kidneys and thyroid — cancers that are prone to spread to the bones — this NaF PET/CT test is more sensitive and more specific than a conventional bone scan and includes the following, additional advantages:

Because conventional bone scans use the radioactive isotope technetium as a tracer, a shortage of technetium, which is produced in only a handful of nuclear reactors around the world, can lead to delays for patients with cancer.  With NaF PET/CT, there is no waiting because sodium fluoride can be produced on demand.
NaF PET/CT scans are also more patient-friendly than conventional scans. While both require patients to receive an injection of a radioactive tracer, the uptake period is just 30 minutes for sodium fluoride, compared to three hours for technetium-based tracers.
Patients also spend just 20 minutes in the scanner with PET/CT as compared to 45 minutes with conventional exams.
Although NaF PET/CT scans deliver a slightly higher dose of radiation than conventional scans (5 mSv versus 7.4 mSv), the radiation exposure is still low. In fact, NaF PET/CT may prove accurate enough to reduce the need for additional imaging tests, leading to lower overall radiation exposure for patients.

Medicare Reimbursement

The National Oncologic PET Registry (NOPR) is currently collecting data on the usefulness of PET with sodium fluoride for the evaluation of proven or strongly suspected metastatic disease to the bone.

Until recently, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursed only for conventional bone scans. Now, Medicare-eligible patients can receive reimbursement for NaF PET/CT scans under the “coverage with evidence development” program.
To qualify for reimbursement, referring physicians must complete
two data collection forms.

The pre-scan form must be returned to Glendale MRI Institute before the scan takes place. The post-scan form must be returned within 30 days
after the scan. There is no charge to physicians who refer patients to the study. Both forms are available at the NOPR website.

As always, if you have any questions about bone scans or need more information to determine whether or not a bone scan is right for you, feel free to contact us.  We’re here to help!