Bone scan and bone density and JIA

A bone scan will show inflammation or infection in the bones, while a bone density test will measure the amount of calcium in the bones. Your child may undergo these tests as part of their JIA diagnosis.

What is a bone scan?

A bone scan is a series of pictures of the skeleton. Usually the entire body is scanned. The scan is typically done to show inflammation or infection, which might not show up on a regular X-ray.

How is a bone scan done?

A bone scan is done by a doctor called a radiologist, who specializes in doing imaging studies. The radiologist is assisted by a nuclear medicine technologist.

An intravenous (IV) tube will first be placed in your child’s vein. Through the IV, your child will be given a dose of a radioactive medicine which will travel to the bones (skeleton). This medicine is very safe. It will take two to three hours for the bones to absorb the medicine. If your child drinks lots of liquid, it will help their bones absorb the medicine.

After about two to four hours, your child will be asked to lie on an X-ray table. This is where the bone scan will be performed. A “gamma” camera will be placed very close to their body. This camera will record the gamma rays given off by the radioactive medication as flashes of light.

The gamma camera will capture an image or movie of their skeleton or bones in action. Very simply, it will create a living picture of their skeleton.

Once the scan starts, it will take about one to two hours. If your child has a hard time lying still, they may be given a sedative. This will help keep them still throughout the test.

What is a bone density test?

The bone density test helps to measure the amount of calcium in the bones. It can help your child’s doctor predict how strong your child’s bones are. It also helps the doctor predict your child’s risk of developing a fracture.

How is a bone density test done?

The most common method of doing a bone density test is by using low-dose X-rays. Your child will be asked to lie down on a table. The bone density scanner will pass over their body. Usually the machine will take X-rays of the lower spine and hips. The test is painless, but your child will need to stay still during the test. The test usually takes 10 to 15 minutes.


Welcome to the Taking Charge: Managing JIA Online Program! In this section you will learn what to expect in the program, how to get started and how to set goals to better manage JIA.

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Diagnosing JIA may be difficult as joint pain and swelling may be a part of many different illnesses. Diagnosis of JIA typically includes a physical exam, blood tests and imaging studies.

Pain, stiffness, and tiredness or fatigue, are common symptoms of JIA. These symptoms can lead to difficulties with participating in school and sports activities, and enjoying time with your friends. Learn about pain, fatigue, and stiffness, how to manage symptoms and how these symptoms can cause stress.

There are several strategies you can use to help you cope with pain, stress, and sleep problems. These include relaxation, distraction, and managing your thoughts. In this section, learn more about how each of these strategies work.

When you know about your medications, you can talk to your doctor about them and make good choices for yourself. Find out about the different types of JIA medications, how they work, common side effects, and the importance of talking to your doctor about your medication plan.

Did you know that there are many other therapies that you can use to manage JIA symptoms? They can help to prevent complications so that you can do all the things you want to do. In this section, learn more about physical, occupational, and psychological therapies; maintaining healthy nutrition; surgical options for JIA, and more.

Your role in making decisions about your treatment plan is very important. Your health-care team and other members of your support system are available to help you make these decisions. In turn, they can help you to manage your JIA.

Whether you have JIA or not, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Find out how to stay healthy and active, learn about puberty and relationships, healthy body image, and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Sometime between the ages of 18 to 22, you most likely will transition from your pediatric rheumatologist to the adult health care setting. At that time, there are a number of things you, your family, and your health-care team can do to help make this change go smoothly.