Diagnostic Imaging: Nuclear Medicine

What is Nuclear Medicine? 
Nuclear Medicine is a safe, painless process used to image the body and treat disease. Nuclear Medicine is unique in that it is extremely sensitive to abnormalities in an organ’s structure or its function.
Nuclear Medicine imaging offers early detection and is used in the diagnosis, management and treatment of serious disease, which may result in a more successful prognosis.

Nuclear Medicine uses small amounts of radioactive materials called radiopharmaceuticals. These substances are attracted to specific organs, bones or tissues, which in turn are detected by special types of cameras. The amount of radiation is comparable to that received during a diagnostic x-ray.

The nuclear medicine radiologist is able to select the most appropriate exam for each patient, avoiding any unnecessary radiation exposure.

Our nuclear medicine services include:

  • cardiac imaging with functional, quantitative and risk assessment
  • endocrine imaging and therapeutics
  • gastrointestinal imaging including motility and malabsorption assessment, blood, biliary potency and bacterial overgrowth
  • genitourinary imaging/functional assessment with and without pharmacologic intervention
  • musculoskeletal imaging including high resolution joint tomography
  • therapeutics including endocrine, and musculoskeletal application
  • infection imaging
  • in-vivo non imaging procedures
  • scintimammography

What to Expect During the Exam 
Depending on the study being performed, the patient is injected with or takes orally the radiopharmaceutical Technetium-99m.

After a specific period of time, the patient will be placed on an exam table and imaging will begin.  Scan time will vary from several minutes up to an hour.  During this time it is important that the patient lies absolutely still.

How long will the scan take?
The time will vary depending on the type of study performed.  You should plan on dedicating a good portion of the day to completing your study.  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.

Why do I have to wait to be scanned after the injection?
The radiopharmaceutical that is used must have time to accumulate in the areas of interest.  This can take minutes or hours depending on the type of study.

Is it safe to nurse my baby after the exam?
It is best to discontinue nursing for a time.  How long will depend on the radiopharmaceutical administered and can vary from 24 hours or longer.

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 safely be performed during pregnancy, when medically indicated and with no risk to the fetus - especially lung scans for pulmonary embolus.  You and your physician must weigh the value of the information to be gained versus the potential affect on the unborn child.

Last updated: Fri, 2015-03-06 14:56