Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a gamma camera, a computer, and a small amount of specialized radioactive agent to capture a functional image of a targeted organ. The radioactive agent is typically injected intravenously or given orally.

Nuclear medicine imaging is valuable for assessing both the physical and functional aspects of internal organs. It is frequently conducted first before more invasive procedures such as surgery.

The imaging procedure is usually targeted to a specific organ such as:

  • Bones
  • Thyroid
  • Lungs
  • Heart
  • Internal organs
  • Breasts

How Is a Nuclear Medicine Procedure Performed?

Nuclear medicine scans are noninvasive and easily tolerated by most patients. The scan can be complete in approximately 30 minutes. However, based on the organ targeted for scanning the radioactive agent can take days to clear from the targeted organ. Following the exam, you can resume your normal activities.

The typical nuclear medicine procedure includes:

  • A small amount of the radioactive agent is given by an IV injection, or orally.
  • Wait for the agent to be absorbed by your body.
  • Change into a hospital gown.
  • Recline on the scanning table.
  • The table will slide into the imaging machine.
  • Remain as still as possible while the images are captured.
  • After the scan, the table will retract from the scanner.

Preparing for Your Nuclear Medicine Procedure

There are limited preparations necessary before your nuclear medicine procedure. For best results, please abide by the following:

  • Depending on the body part being imaged, you may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for 8 hours prior to your test.
  • Inform us of any medications you are taking.
  • Women should always inform their technologist if there is any possibility of pregnancy.