The spine consists of 33 vertebrae that protect the spinal cord and provide stability to the torso. The lower section of the spine is called the lumbar spine. This section of the spine is the most common site for back pain.
When there is a problem with lower back pain a doctor can perform a bone scan to help determine the cause. This is a test in which a radioactive chemical called a tracer is injected into the bloodstream. The chemical sticks to areas where a large amount of new bone is being produced, usually indicating bone damage of some kind. A gamma camera is then used to detect the chemical in the bones and create a digital image.
The bone scan can show problem areas such as infection, bone tumors, and fractures of the spine. A bone scan can also be used to determine bone density and the bone-thinning condition of osteoporosis. After the problem areas are located, more specific tests may be performed to determine the best method of treatment.
This medical animation illustrates how a bone scan is performed. Bone scans help detect problems such as infection, bone tumors and fractures of the spine. This test can also be used to determine bone density and osteoporosis.