Nuclear Medicine

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear Medicine scans use a small amount of a radio-active substance to produce 2- or 3D images of body anatomy and function. Diagnostic images produced by a nuclear scan are used to evaluate a variety of diseases. Sometimes a nuclear scan is combined with a CT scan.

Joseph S. Gurinsky, M.D.

Joseph S. Gurinsky, M.D.

What are some common uses of Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear medicine images can assist the physician in viewing, monitoring or diagnosing:

  • Tumors
  • Blood flow and function of the heart
  • Respiratory and blood-flow problems in the lungs
  • Organ function of the kidney, bowel, gallbladder and others

Before:

Preparation for your exam varies depending on which part of your body is to be scanned.  If the exam is to evaluate the stomach, you may be required to refrain from eating before the test. If the exam is to evaluate the kidneys, you may need to drink plenty of water before the test. The individual who schedules your exam will explain the preparation process.

The day before your appointment, a staff member from our office will call you to confirm. If you need to cancel or reschedule, it must be done no later than one day before your appointment. The radio-active substance used in your test is a special-order and cannot be canceled within less than 24 hours prior to your exam.

Generally, you are not required to change out of your clothes for a Nuclear Medicine procedure. However, for some studies, you are required to remove metal objects, such as loose change, pocket knives, belt buckles and some jewelry. As with any study in radiology, you should tell the technologist if there is a chance that you are pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.

During:

Although imaging time can vary, the exam generally takes between 20 and 60 minutes.

  • A radiopharmaceutical, known as a tracer, either is administered intravenously or orally. The type of radiopharmaceutical used and if the imaging is conducted immediately or several hours later depends upon the type of exam you’re undergoing
  • For most nuclear scans, you lie on a table and a nuclear imaging camera captures the image of the examined area. The camera either is suspended over or below the exam table or in a large donut-shaped machine similar to a CT scanner. While the images are being captured, you must remain as still as possible
  • You may hear low-level or buzzing noises from the machine
  • Most of the radio-activity is expelled from your body in urine or stool. The rest simply disappears over time

After:

You should not feel any side effects and be able to return to your normal daily activities directly after the scan. We recommend that you hydrate thoroughly for 48 hours after the scan to help void the medications.

For more information on this topic, please visit Radiologyinfo.org/Nuclear Medicine