Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine, or scan, uses a small amount of a radioactive substance to produce two or three dimensional images of body anatomy and function. The diagnostic images produced by a nuclear scan are used to evaluate a variety of diseases.

What are some common uses of Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear medicine images can assist the physician in the evaluation and diagnosis of:

  • Tumors and infection

  • Bone disease and fractures

  • Thyroid disease

  • Respiratory and blood-flow problems in the lungs

  • Functional studies of the kidney, bowel, gallbladder and heart

How should I prepare for this procedure?

  • Bring a copy of the order for the procedure from your referring physician, your insurance card, and photo identification.

  • On the day of your exam, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.

  • You should drink plenty of water before the test. Take your usual medications.

  • If the examination is done to evaluate the stomach or gallbladder, you should not eat or drink for 4 hours before the test.

  • Women should inform their doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

What should I expect during this exam?

  • Although imaging time can vary, the exam generally takes 20 to 45 minutes, but some studies last a couple of days.

  • A radiopharmaceutical, known as a tracer, is usually administered either intravenously or by mouth. What radiopharmaceutical is used and when the imaging will be done – immediately, a few hours later, or even several days after the injection, is dependent upon the type of exam you’re having.

  • For most nuclear scans, you will lie down on a table and a nuclear imaging camera will be used to capture the image of the area being examined. The camera is either suspended over or below the exam table or in a large donut-shaped machine similar to a CT scanner. While the images are being obtained, you must remain as still as possible.

  • Most of the radioactivity is expelled out of your body in urine or stool. The rest simply disappears through over time.

What will I experience during the procedure?

  • Although usually done with a small needle, some patients experience minor discomfort from the intravenous injection. Also, lying still on the examining table may be uncomfortable. You will hear low-level clicking or buzzing noises from the machine.

What should I do after the examination?

  • When your examination is over, you may resume your normal daily activities unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. One of our board-certified radiologists will review the images and send a report to your physician. You can discuss the results of your examination with your physician.  About your nuclear imaging test