What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear Medicine is a diagnostic procedure where very small amounts of radioactive materials are introduced into the body. These radioactive isotopes or tracers are attracted to specific organs, bones or tissues, and are detected by a gamma camera, which produces images based on the intensity of uptake from the isotopes.
The Radiologist will interpret these images and diagnose certain diseases or injuries in the body by looking at the way your body absorbs the isotope tracers.
Steps of the exams:
- Injection of the isotope
- Obtaining images
- Interpreting the image by Radiologist
Types of procedures available at MCHHS:
- Bone Scans
- HIDA/CCK (gallbladder function test)
- Cardiolite Stress Test
- Thyroid Uptake & Scan
- Lung Scan
- Renal Scan
What happens during the exam?
- Administration of isotope tracer through an IV, swallowing, or inhalation to the lungs.
- The next step will be imaging, this will vary depending on the exam, some imaging will occur immediately after the isotope and in others you may be asked to come back in 2 hours.
- Imaging occurs either on a table or sitting up, depending on the exam.
- Movement will be restricted, so we don’t blur the images.
- You can breathe normal during the exam.
Are there any risks?
The amount of radiation that you will receive is no more than that of a routine x-ray procedure. Nuclear medicine exams are generally safe for most adults and children, but they are not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
The isotope dose that you will receive will decay with time and will be flushed out through normal body function.
What’s the preparation for the test?
- Please arrive at least 15– 20 minutes prior to exam to be checked in.
- Preparation varies with exam, so make sure you understand your preparation instructions from your physician.
- If you need to reschedule your exam, please call our office 24 hr. prior to your scheduled appointment.
Can I have a reaction from the isotope?
No, you should not have any type of reaction with isotope, the dose reacts naturally in the body.
How long does the scan last?
The scanning varies with the exam, anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 ½ hours are to be expected.
When will I get my results?
The Radiologist will read your results either the same day of the exam or the next working day. The results are then sent to your physician, please allow 1 week for notification.