Nuclear Medicine

Tech preparing a patient for an imaging exam

What is it?

Nuclear medicine uses computers and cameras, along with small amounts of radioactive material, to take images of your body in a noninvasive, safe, and painless way.

What is it for?

Nuclear medicine can show physicians how an organ is functioning and provides information that might otherwise be impossible to find without surgery or other diagnostics. It is used for:

  • Bone analysis
  • Brain scans
  • Breast scans
  • Heart scans
  • Kidney examination
  • Thyroid examination

Nuclear medicine can assess and diagnose abscesses, cysts, hematomas and tumors.

How to Prepare:

  • Talk to your health care provider about your medical history, current medical condition, medicines you are taking and any allergies you have.
  • Do not wear jewelry or other metal accessories, as it may interfere with the procedure.

What happens during?

  1. You will lie on an examination table wearing a hospital gown.
  2. An I.V. may be administered.
  3. A radioactive material, called a radiopharmaceutical or radiotracer, is injected into your bloodstream, swallowed or inhaled as a gas. The radioactive material builds up in the area of your body or organ that is being examined and gives off energy in the form of gamma rays.
  4. It can take anywhere from several seconds to several days for the radiotracer to move through your body and into the area or organ being examined. As a result, imaging can happen immediately, a few hours later or several days later.
  5. Cameras will then find this energy and take pictures of your structures and organs. Don't be alarmed if you see the camera rotating around your body - that's perfectly normal.
  6. It’s important for you to be still while pictures are taken.
  7. The technologist will check the images for clarity and instruct you if more images are needed.

What happens after?

  • The I.V. line will be removed if one was administered.
  • You may resume your normal activities after a nuclear medicine examination has been completed.

Risks

  • Low radiation exposure
  • Allergic reaction
  • Slight pain and redness from radiotracer injection

Side effects

  • After your test, the small amount of radiotracer in your body will naturally lose its radioactivity over time. The radiotracer can pass through urine or stool either a few hours or up to a few days later.
  • You should drink plenty of water to flush the radiotracer from your body.

If you would like to schedule a PET/CT scan, please use our scheduling tool below or call (855) 269-4333. To find an imaging center near you, please view our locations.