Nuclear medicine records radiation from the "inside-out." Substances called radiopharmaceuticals are injected, swallowed or inhaled by the patient. Emissions created by the radiopharmaceuticals in the bone, organ or tissue being examined are detected by a camera. This information is recorded on a computer screen or on film.
Nuclear medicine documents the function as well as the structure of organs, bones, and tissues. An x-ray can tell a physician what something looks like, but nuclear medicine can also tell if it is functioning properly.
Common procedures include:
- thyroid scans
- brain scans
- bone scans
- lung scans
- cardiac stress tests
- MUGA (Multi Gated Acquisition) scans - designed to evaluate the function of the right and left ventricles of the heart
- liver and gallbladder procedures
In addition to diagnosing a disease, nuclear medicine can be used to treat disease. Therapeutic uses include treatment of hyperthyroidism and pain relief from certain types of bone cancers.
A prescription from your doctor is needed to make an appointment.
Preparing for Your Nuclear Medicine Procedure
Ask your doctor about any special instructions you may need to follow. Continue to take your medications as prescribed unless you are instructed otherwise.
If you are diabetic, pregnant or breastfeeding, please notify your physician and the nuclear medicine staff.
The Day of Your Procedure
Wear comfortable clothing to your appointment. You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothing, but gowns and scrubs will be available. If you are having an imaging study, please do not wear any jewelry.
During Your Procedure
You will meet with a technologist who will administer the radiopharmaceutical. The tracer may be administered intravenously, by mouth, or inhaled, depending on the type of procedure being done.
Imaging times will vary with procedure, but all procedures require that you hold as still as possible to produce optimal images.
After Your Procedure
You may leave immediately following the procedure unless you are instructed otherwise and all normal activities may be resumed. Drink plenty of fluids in the 24 to 48 hours following your procedure. Your doctor may give you additional instructions.
The radiologist or nuclear medicine physician will study the images collected and report the results to your physician.
We will bill your insurance company directly. Please bring your insurance card and referral/authorization form (if necessary) on the day of your exam.
Some insurance carries require pre-certification for nuclear medicine. Please check with your insurance provider to see what their requirements are.