Medical Imaging: Nuclear Medicine - What To Expect

What will happen during my appointment?

Depending on the imaging you are having done, the radioactive materials required for imaging (Technetium-99m) will be injected or you will take it by mouth.  It will take anywhere from minutes to several hours for the radioactive material to accumulate in the areas of your body being scanned.  After the appropriate interval, you will be asked to lie on the exam table for your imaging to begin.  The time required for the actual scan will vary from several minutes up to an hour.  You will need to lie absolutely still during the imaging test.

How long will my appointment take?

The length of your appointment will depend on the type of imaging being done.  You should plan on your appointment taking most of the day.  You may also be asked to return for additional pictures on the same day or on a different day.  This information will be given to you when you make your appointment. 

Is it safe to nurse my baby after the exam?

It is best to stop nursing for a period of time after your exam.  The technologist or radiologist will let you know how long you should stop. The recommendation is usually to stop for 24-hours or longer depending on the radiopharmaceutical used for your test.  It is important to inform the technologist if you are breast-feeding.

Can I have a nuclear medicine study if I am pregnant?

Generally, nuclear medicine studies are not recommended for pregnant women. Some nuclear medicine studies can be safely performed during pregnancy when medically indicated and with no risk to the fetus, such as lung scans for pulmonary embolus.  You and your doctor must decide if the information gained from having the test is of more benefit versus the potential effect on your unborn child.