• Nuclear Medicine

    Nuclear medicine is another kind of scanning procedure that typically involves giving patients small amounts of radioactive substances – usually by vein, mouth, or inhalation – to create incredibly detailed images of the body. These tests are so powerful that they can produce “molecular” images, which means images at the cellular and subcellular level. The tests are painless and are used to reveal all kinds of diseases or injuries of the body, from brain function to blood disorders to broken bones.

    Nuclear medicine procedures can provide useful information about many organs and diseases; however, it may not be for everyone.

    If you are pregnant or there is a possibility you are, or if you are breast feeding, it is very important you inform your physician and center personnel before your procedure. Your physician and radiologist will determine whether it is better for you to have the nuclear medicine procedure or another type of diagnostic procedure.

    Preparing for nuclear medicine procedures

    General guidelines

    • Please arrive at least 15-30 minutes before your scheduled procedure time to complete paperwork and change clothes if necessary.
    • Wear comfortable clothes without zippers or snaps; metal objects may interfere with the images. For this reason, you should leave jewelry (and other valuables) at home as well.
    • Bring the written prescription your physician gave you for this procedure.
    • If you have had an X-ray procedure using barium contrast material (such as a barium swallow or enema) or have taken a medication containing bismuth (such as Pepto-Bismol) within four days of your scan appointment, please notify the scheduling or technical staff when making your appointment. Barium and bismuth may interfere with the procedure's results.

    For some nuclear medicine procedures, there will be a waiting period of one to three hours after the radioactive tracer is injected before your procedure is performed. You may want to bring some reading material or a project to pass the time during this waiting period. You may also be permitted to leave the facility for a short period of time and return to have the scan completed.

    Please note: You may be asked to change into a clinic gown.

    Fasting and fluids

    Though most nuclear medicine procedures, except for gastrointestinal or gallbladder studies, do not require any special preparations, you will be required to fast for these procedures. The center scheduling staff will provide you with specific instructions if this applies to you when making the appointment.

    You may be asked to drink lots of fluid during the waiting period, and you will be asked to empty your bladder just before the procedure begins.

    Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask.

    We strongly encourage you to ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have prior to your procedure. We strongly believe that communication with our patients is an important part of the service we provide.

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