What are bone scans and what do they mean? Bone scans use a nucleotide that is picked up by actively rebuilding bone tissues. This nucleotide is then picked up by the bone scan. Bone tissues that are actively functioning (all bone tissue is active but some is more active than others) such as bone cancers, arthritis, fractures, etc. show up as "bright" areas on the bone scan. Thus a bright are on the bone scan doesn't mean a specific diagnosis but helps when one suspects something. For instance, if one is checking for bony infiltration from cancer, the bone scan will show where this is occurring. It could also show if a fracture is old or new. The picture below shows a normal bone scan except for a possible rib fracture.