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.