WHAT IS NUCLEAR MEDICINE?
Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose or even treat a variety of diseases in many different organs from the thyroid to your bones. Small amounts of radioactive material are given and images are then created by special computers that receive the emissions from the radioactive substance.
Depending on the body part being examined, that radioactive substance may be given through a small IV, administered orally or may be inhaled as a gas. In addition to visualizing anatomy, imaging with radioactive substances allows us to evaluate function. We can assess how your thyroid, gallbladder and kidneys are working.
The most frequent studies requested are those to evaluate your thyroid, bones, and gallbladder. At times, we may even be asked to treat specific diseases with radioactive substances, most commonly using radioactive iodine to treat certain thyroid diseases.
What to Expect
The radionuclide or radioactive substance will be given through a small IV, orally, or inhaled, depending on the body part being examined. The camera will be positioned to collect the radioactive emissions.
The length of time for nuclear medicine procedures varies greatly, depending on the type of exam. Some exams may require that you return for additional images later the same day or at times on the following day. This will be explained to you at the time of scheduling the test.
Your technologist will inform you of any specific instructions to follow after your exam is complete.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A NUCLEAR MEDICINE EXAM
- Wear comfortable clothing for your exam, although you may be asked to change into a gown.
- Please inform scheduling personnel and your technologist if there is any possibility of pregnancy or if you are breastfeeding.
- Jewelry and other metallic accessories should be left at home if possible, or removed prior to the exam because they may interfere with the study.
- There may be specific instructions required for preparation for your specific nuclear medicine examination. These will be explained at the time of scheduling.
TIPS FOR AN EXCELLENT PROCEDURE
- Relax. Your technologist will help make you comfortable throughout your exam.
- Wear comfortable clothing. Some of these studies require being still in one position for an extended time period.
- Have questions? Our friendly staff will be happy to go over any questions you have prior to your exam.