Key Points about Nuclear Medicine
- Nuclear medicine provides information on how parts of the body function and not just structure or anatomy.
- The radioactive material is administered by IV injection.
- A special camera called a gamma detector will be positioned close to the part of the body that is being scanned.
About nuclear medicine
Nuclear medicine uses a small amount of radioactive material to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases. Differing from X-ray, which demonstrates anatomy or structure, nuclear medicine provides information on how parts of the body function. The radioactive material is attracted to specific organs, bones or tissues in the body. The radioactive material will eventually concentrate in the organ of interest.
Preparing for a nuclear medicine exam
Because various procedures require different protocols, you will receive special instructions. It is likely that you will be asked not to consume food or drink for at least four hours prior to our appointment.
You may be asked to wear a gown during the exam. If you are a woman, please inform your physician or technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
You will be asked to fill out a form asking about your medical history. Please be prepared to list all your medications.
Expectations during a nuclear medicine exam
The radioactive material is administered by IV injection. A special camera called a gamma detector will be positioned close to the part of the body that is being scanned. The information is then sent to a computer that processes and analyzes the amount and distribution of radioactive tracers in your body.Depending on the test, the scan may be performed immediately or after a few days. Some scans may require multiple visits.
Nuclear medicine is safe and painless. The radioactive material used is quickly eliminated from the body through its natural functions. The dose of radiation is very small and the radioactive material loses activity very quickly. Reactions to the radioactive material are rare. You may be instructed to take special precautions after urinating, such as flushing the toilet twice and thoroughly washing your hands. You should also drink plenty of water after the exam.
You may receive a reminder phone call prior to your appointment. You will have the opportunity to ask questions at that time.
Length of a nuclear medicine exam
The length of time it takes to perform the exam is procedure dependent taking anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours and may be conducted over several days.