Nuclear Medicine

 

Nuclear medicine scans use very small, safe amounts of radioactive material to obtain images of specific organs. The radioisotope used depends on the organ to be examined, since each organ picks up its own specific material. Thus, iodine is picked up by the thyroid gland, calcium by the bone, and so on. By using the appropriate material, almost every organ in the body can be scanned.

What is the purpose of a Nuclear Medicine scan?

Nuclear medicine scanning helps your doctor to see a picture of how your organs function. Organs routinely scanned by this examination include the liver, heart, brain, lungs, and thyroid gland, but many others can be scanned as well.

How does the exam work?

Once the radioisotope reaches the target organ, it is taken up by the cells of the organ, and there, the radioactivity given off can be picked up by a special camera and stored in a computer. Images can also be photographed and studied. Valuable information on the condition of your various organs and organ systems can be obtained.

Preparing for the exam:

Several hours may be required to perform your scan. Some of the nuclear scan procedures require special preparation.

Bone Imaging

  • You must not be pregnant or breastfeeding. If breastfeeding, discontinue for 36 hours post scan.
  • There is no prep.

Nuclear Stress Tests (Exercise & Adenosine) –  in conjunction with Cardiac Rehab

  • No caffeine or caffeine products such as coffee, decaf coffee, pop, tea, chocolate, etc. for 24 hours prior to exam.
  • You may eat breakfast the morning of your test.
  • When the test is scheduled, medical center staff will let you know if you should or shouldn’t take your medications on the day of your test.
  • The test may take up to 4 hours to complete
  • You must not be pregnant or breastfeeding. If breastfeeding, discontinue for 36 hours post scan.

Hepatobiliary Scan with CCK (HIDA)

  • Nothing to eat or drink six hours prior to exam.
  • You should not have had any barium studies five days prior to exam.
  • No Morphine or Percoset 8 hours prior to the exam
  • You must not be pregnant or breastfeeding. If breastfeeding, discontinue for 36 hours post scan.

Gastric Emptying Imaging

  • Nothing to eat or drink after midnight if test is in AM.
  • Nothing to eat or drink eight hours prior if in PM.
  • You must not be pregnant or breastfeeding. If breastfeeding, discontinue for 36 hours post exam.

Renal Imaging (with Captopril)

  • You should be hydrated and on clear liquids the morning of the test.
  • Must be off of diuretics for 48 hours. Patient must arrive early for Captopril dose. If patient is on Captopril or other ACE Inhibitor, they must bring this medication with.  Radiology Department will give instructions for this.
  • You must not be pregnant.

Thyroid Uptake and Imaging

  • You must not be pregnant or breastfeeding.  If breastfeeding, discontinued for four days post scan.
  • Hold all thyroid medications for 4 weeks.
  • No iodine contrast agents for at least 4 weeks.

During the exam:

A technologist will help you get properly positioned under the camera, and the radioisotope will receive only a tiny amount of radioactive material which will be eliminated from your body in one or two days. Most scans require a variety of images, so you may have to assume different positions.

After the exam:

After the exam is completed, you will be able to go home and return to normal activities. The scan will be read by a radiologist. Test results will be mailed to you by your provider if they are normal. The ordering provider does not telephone you with normal test results. Abnormal test results will be reported to you by telephone by the ordering provider or their assistant, along with follow up instructions. 

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