Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What is wrong with my neck?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat is wrong with my neck?


I had some pain in my neck for a while and finally went to the doctor. He had an x-ray done and said it looks like I have a bone island. What is this? Now he wants a bone scan done? What is happening with my neck?


A bone island is a collection of hard compact bone located within another bone. Conceptually, in most cases these can be thought of as analogous to benign "cysts" or "tumors" that are found in other tissues in the body. Most of the time they are found by accident when an x-ray is taken, because they tend to be asymptomatic. When they are symptomatic, they do not generally require treatment. However, occasionally, a bone island may be large or otherwise located in a spot that provokes pain. There is also a low risk that some bone islands may represent a form of bone cancer. Therefore, when a bone island is found and is associated with pain or other symptoms, it needs to be evaluated. This is why your doctor is wanting to get a bone scan, as this will provide additional information about the characteristics of the bone island and help determine if it needs to be treated or if it is cancerous. Based on what your doctor finds and what the bone scan shows, they may end up referring you for additional treatment or evaluation to a specialist, such as an orthopedic doctor or a cancer doctor (oncologist). Good luck!

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.