WHAT IS NUCLEAR MEDICINE?
Nuclear medicine is a diagnostic tool in which images are created using a special camera that images organs and tissues in the body after administration of a radioactive “tracer” (radionuclide or radioisotope) to make them visible. The amount of radiation from a nuclear medicine procedure is comparable to that received during a routine X-ray. The tracer only remains in the body for a short period of time before being eliminated in the urine or stool, usually within 24 hours.
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR THE NUCLEAR MEDICINE PROCEDURE?
- Please arrive at least 15-30 minutes prior to your scheduled procedure time to complete paperwork and to change clothes if necessary.
- Wear comfortable clothes without zippers or snaps; metal objects may interfere with the images. You may be asked to change into a clinic gown. Please leave jewelry and other valuables at home.
- Please bring the written prescription your physician gave you for this procedure.
- If you have had an X-ray procedure using barium contrast material (such as a barium swallow or enema) or have taken a medication (such as Pepto-Bismol) that contains bismuth within the four days prior to your scan appointment, please notify the scheduling or technical staff when making your appointment. Barium and bismuth may interfere with the procedure’s results.
- For some nuclear medicine procedures, there will be a waiting period of one to three hours after the radioactive tracer is injected before your procedure is performed. You may want to bring some reading materials or a project to pass the time during this waiting period. You may also be permitted to leave the facility for a short period of time and return to have the scan completed.
- Most nuclear medicine procedures do not require any special preparations, except for gastrointestinal or gallbladder studies, for which you will be required to fast. The center scheduling staff will provide you with specific instructions when you make the appointment, if this applies to you. You may be asked to drink a lot of fluid during the waiting period and you will be asked to empty your bladder just before the procedure begins.
- We strongly encourage you to ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have prior to your procedure. Communication with our patients is an important part of the service we provide.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT DURING THE NUCLEAR MEDICINE PROCEDURE?
- You may be asked to change into a clinic gown and will be escorted to the nuclear medicine room.
- A nuclear medicine technologist will assist you onto the padded exam table and position you for the procedure.
- The gamma camera will be positioned closely to your body. It may be stationary or it may move slowly above and around your body. The camera only detects radiation, since it does not produce any radiation; you are not exposed to any additional radiation while the scan is being done.
- Please pay close attention to all instructions from the nuclear medicine technologist and refrain from any unnecessary movement. Motion may cause the images to blur, requiring portions of the procedure to be repeated.
- The nuclear medicine technologist will be in constant communication with you during the procedure, and will be present in or near the exam room for the entire procedure.
- Our goal is to make your nuclear medicine procedure as comfortable as possible. If you are uncomfortable in any way, please inform your technologist.
HOW LONG WILL THE NUCLEAR MEDICINE PROCEDURE TAKE?
Depending on the type of study ordered by your physician, the actual nuclear medicine procedure generally takes from 30 to 60 minutes to complete.
WHEN DO I GET MY NUCLEAR MEDICINE RESULTS?
Our certified nuclear medicine technologist will prepare your nuclear medicine images for the radiologist to evaluate. The radiologist will interpret your results and dictate a written report, which will be forwarded to your physician. Your physician will convey the results of the procedure to you.