Getting a Bone Scan?

aka Nuclear Medicine Imaging

What is a bone scan?

With nuclear medicine imaging, bones can be scanned to show their condition. This is typically done to see if there have been any effected changes in bones due to injury, disease or some kind of infection.

Nuclear medicine imaging involves small amounts of radiopharmaceuticals, historically called radioisotopes, being injected into a vein. These substances then stick to the bones, emit radiation and can be viewed with special cameras that have fantastic names: single-photon emission computed tomography cameras, SPECT cameras, for example.

This process, in my case, was carried out to eliminate the possibility of very small fractures. This highly sensitive imaging process displays the areas of high radiopharmaceutical uptake as brighter than other areas, brightness possibly indicating areas of concern.

The areas of high radiopharmaceutical uptake appear brighter.
High radiopharmaceutical uptake in the bones appears as being brighter.

Why are you having a bone scan?

Why wouldn’t you just have an X-radiation image (X-ray), computed tomography scan (CT scan) or a magnetic resonance image scan (MRI scan)? These procedures look at bone structure, but a bone scan examines the bone’s condition and how it is functioning, essentially facilitating early diagnosis of bone stress—before a fracture or unwanted change in the bone takes place.

How do you prepare for a bone scan?

Between receiving the injection and having the scan, I was asked to drink several cups of water and make sure to urinate before having the scan. This is apparently to avoid any buildup of the radioactive radiopharmaceutical in the bladder.

What happens during the scan?

First you will get the radiopharmaceutical injected into your vein. You must then wait for two to six hours.

Several hours later, after your bones have had time to absorb the radioactive material, the scan can commence.

The scan may take a long time and you have to lie completely still. I had two scans that went for nearly half an hour in total. And the scanning may take longer than that depending on what you’re having scanned.

What will happen afterwards?

Typically, there aren’t any noticeable effects from the bone scan. You will still have radioactive material in your system for up to 24 hours after the scan. I was told that I may inadvertently set off metal detectors due to this radiation.


My Results: I was said to have, … tomography demonstrating slight increased activity at a number of tarsometatarsal joints bilaterally as well as the [metatarsophalangeal] joint of both great toes.” Well, I have great toes do I ;-) Also, “Low grade increased activity within the right talonavicular joint,” and, “Scattered areas of mild arthropathy.”

If you know what these terms mean, please comment below and tell me your diagnosis.

Cyber attack, the how and why

Everyday there’s unsolicited email, cookies wanting to be downloaded and new applications to try out.

But is much of this malicious?

Releasing a white paper this week on this subject, Richard Henderson, security strategist for FortiGuard Threat Research & Response Labs, based in Burnaby BC, is collecting some interesting data on the matter.

Making a large blip on Henderson’s radar is advanced targeted attacks, ATAs, also called advanced persistent threats, APTs. They are a big concern for Canada and the world at large.

Here, Henderson describes what they are and how they came about. He talks about financial theft, infiltrating a media outlet and international espionage:

So ATAs come in a variety of forms, and use a variety of means, but ultimately aim to beon your network over a period of time, and they do it quietly.

Quietly, and cleverly.

Off-the-shelf malware: malicious software that is made available for sale. And in a very business-like manner. Henderson explains how in the next clip.

For the most part, larger companies and organisations have the means to protect themselves, but who else do you give your personal information to? Do those smaller companies and organisations have the ways and means to protect your data and ensure that it’s safe?

Here Henderson uses TJ Maxx and there and its strife with online security as a case study:

So as in life, we know to keep our heads up, eyes and ears open and not take everything for granted. And when online, it’s important to be just as diligent. You’d look at a map if you were going somewhere new, and might even ask a police officer for help if you got lost. The same should be done on the Internet.

Before you download that oh-so-appetizing-app, spend a few minutes looking up some reviews, maybe visit the company’s website. And if in doubt, just contact your local Internet security company, Henderson will be glad you got in touch.


Wael Elazab


For more about APTs, please see for further excerpts from this interview.

The good, the bad and the trans fats

What different fats do and how they work

From the butter on your bread, to the olive oil with your fuul, and the semneh in your casserole, fat is the cornerstone of a healthy Egyptian menu.

But not necessarily a healthy body.

In a typical sense, fat is seen as a solid, like butter or the fat in meat. Oils are just fats that are liquid at room temperature. Once fat makes it though your digestive system, into your bloodstream, it is cholesterol.

In referring to fats as saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated, one is describing whether all the available spaces on the carbon atoms are bonded to hydrogen atoms, or if there are any hydrogen atoms missing.

Highly saturated fats have all of their carbon atoms filled, or saturated, with hydrogen atoms. This kind of fat is found in certain cuts of meat, dairy products like butter and cheese, and the tropical oils coconut, palm and palm kernel. A diet high in saturated fats can cause a rise in low-density lipoprotein, which takes bad cholesterol to the arteries and is thought to cause their hardening and lead to heart attacks, strokes and vascular disease. Continue reading

Tesla Transformer

About Nikola Tesla

This year saw the 156th anniversary of Nicola Tesla’s birth on July 10. Son of a priest and an inventor, this Serbian studied at the University of Prague, worked for the Continental  Edison Company in France and relocated to New York City in 1884.

Less than ten years later, the Tesla Coil had been invented.

Tesla coils can send electrons wirelessly to nearby conductors.
Tesla coils can send electrons wirelessly to nearby conductors.

Tesla Coils and Electrical Energy

Tesla coils are step-up transformers that can transmit electricity wirelessly over short distances.

A coil of many turns is surrounded by another coil of wire. These coils don’t touch. The coil on the outside, the primary one let’s say, has a wide enough diameter to go around the other. This primary coil just has a few turns in it. The other coil running down the middle, the secondary coil, has many turns and is not coiled around anything, so it just has air in it.

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Lightning and Van de Graaff

About Van de Graaff

Of Dutch heritage, Robert Jemison Van de Graaff was born in Alabama on December 20 1901. He went to University in Alabama, and later studied at the Sorbonne and then Oxford University.

By the time he was thirty, he had built two Van de Graaff generators, the second, larger one, was capable of producing millions of volts.

Van de Graaff Generators and Static Electricity

These electrostatic generators were designed to collect static electricity and store it.

They work by taking electrons from atoms. Atoms, the smallest “building blocks” of life, are made up of protons and electrons.

And some materials will lose electrons more easily than others. Van de Graaff generators are made to accumulate these “loose” electrons.

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Ecology is a Science

It could be said that education and conservation ought to be more clearly linked.

Education informs and empowers, so you can act based on the knowledge you gain. That knowledge can lead to a better understanding of how living things interact with each other and their environment. That understanding can then in turn help us change our behavior, or at least make us aware of what we’re doing, with a view to improving things for the world in which we live.

Flying Mammals
Bats are the only flying mammals and fall under the order of Chiroptera

The Stanley Park Ecology Society

The Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) works independently of the Vancouver Park Board. It is also a non-profit charity that has been around for 25 years.

Its mandate is to, “Promotes awareness of and respect for the natural world and plays a leadership role in the stewardship of Stanley Park through collaborative initiatives in education, research and conservation.”

I recently met with Krystal Pyke, public programs manager at SPES, to find out more about the science of ecology. Pyke has studied ecology and has a BSc in fish and wildlife biology and says that ecology is essentially, “The study of living things as a whole.”

She begins by telling us about ecology and how SPES teaches the fundamentals, “[SPES] focuses on teaching about how things are interrelated … our main goals are to reconnect people with nature through education and conservation initiatives.”

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The Most Common Cause of Cancer-related Death in Children

Cancer occurs when something in your body, often just one irregular cell, starts to reproduce *uncontrollably* and then spreads, grows and multiplies, possibly in other parts of the body.

  • Why this happens is the focus of much research and it may take several posts at a later date to delve more deeply into it.
  • Some cancers are incurable and others can be treated and also cured.
  • Leukemia is often called “a cancer of the blood.” This is because it begins where blood cells are made: in the bone marrow itself. Leukemia can affect any of the “things” in your blood such as red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets (platelets work to clot damaged blood cells and prevent bleeding).
Bioinformatics and Targeted Disease Therapy
Bioinformatics is a crucial component in creating new treatments for cancer.

What is the Most Common Cause of Cancer-related Death in Children?

  • This post will address the most common childhood cancer. It is called “acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” often referred to as ALL (pronounced A-L-L). It is “acute” because it appears with little or no warning; it is also due to the disease progressing extremely quickly.
  • “Lymphoblastic” is a term used to describe which of the blood cells that this leukemia affects. In the case of ALL, it is the white blood cells. Specifically, there is an over abundance of white cells produced in the bone marrow that become cancerous.
  • ALL is the most common childhood cancer particularly of children aged between two and three, but is curable.

Dr. Ryan Morin

I recently had the good fortune to meet with Ryan Morin, assistant professor at Simon Fraser University, and a specialist in researching cancers that affect white blood cells and the body’s means of defense from disease or infection.

Morin has done considerable work with ALL and recently published a paper demonstrating potential new treatment options for patients afflicted with this cancer.

What is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)?

Let’s begin by listening to Morin’s description of ALL. He describes it as a common type of leukemia that adults get, but also as the most common type that children get. “This is typically the leukemia that children will get and it’s quite lethal if untreated, but treatments for ALL have gotten quite good.” He goes on to say that a lot of work is now being done with patients that are not responding to existing treatments by examining how things work at the genetic level.

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Written by Comments Off on The Most Common Cause of Cancer-related Death in Children Posted in interview, Science

People Science

People Science

Communicating Science and Technology

I’ll be addressing several questions in this post.

  1. What is the public perception of science? (And is it just done by men?)
  2. Do people think science is important?
  3. How much does the public need to know about science?
  4. Are scientists the best qualified to be communicating their work?
  5. How should science be shared with the public?

Certainly, there is value in education of any sort, but the premise here is that people’s time should also be spent learning about science and the many scientific principles that appear to govern our world.

Being well informed about why things fall down and not up, what a genome is and how your television can be controlled remotely would allow us to make better choices at the ballot box, sustain our planet for future generations and throw a mean(er) curve ball.

I am very familiar with the point at which eyes-glaze-over. My eyes typically do this when I’m presented with abundant information on one or several topics that I can see are important, and feel I should know about, but simply haven’t been schooled in them.

To address all of this I have three people offering their opinions. All work in the areas of medical and health sciences. Two are scientists and one is an editor of scientific publications:

Jay Draper, managing editor of publications at British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA), formerly the BC Medical Journal managing editor.

Fiona Brinkman, (@fionabrinkman) professor at Simon Fraser University (SFU), co-director at SFU-UBC Bioinformatics Graduate Training Program, co-lead at Bioinformatics for Combating Infectious Diseases Project and previously the director of Bioinformatics at Genome Canada/Genome BC Pathogenomics Project.

Raymond See, scientific consultant, formally the program director for the SARS Accelerated Vaccine Initiative and the scientific director of PREPARE (Proteomics for Emerging Pathogen Response).

1. What is the public perception of science? (And is it just conducted by men?)

See states that the perception is a positive one and that they are well informed, and are more interested in what affects them personally, say if a family member or friend contracted a disease. He maintains that a lot of scientific work is covered in the press, because people are interested in what’s being done.

Draper concedes that there is likely, “Mysticism” around science for people not working in the field or without relatives who work with science. He also points out that people are far more concerned about science when it affects their lives from a health and safety perspective, perhaps as a result of movies and television shows.

Brinkman too, also refers to people likely getting frustrated and simply wondering, “Well how does this apply to me?” But her overall impression is that science is viewed positively. Brinkman goes on to talk about the changing attitudes toward women in science and brings up a humorous anecdote about the recent Higgs boson announcement that a national newspaper covered; but all things considered, she believes that up and coming female scientists need to see female role models, just as anyone in any field likes to see role models they can relate to.

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