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
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