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Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine is a specialized area of radiology that uses very small amounts of radioactive materials, known as radiopharmaceuticals or isotopes, to examine organ function and structure. Since x-rays pass through soft tissue, such as intestines, muscles, and blood vessels, these contrast agents must be used to visualize certain parts of the body. Nuclear Medicine procedures offered at Radiology & Imaging use the low-dose radioactive isotopes to trace the functioning of the lungs, kidneys, stomach, colon, endocrine and neurological systems. It also helps diagnose certain tumors, metastatic disease and infections in the body very early in the progression of a disease, such as thyroid cancer, at a time when there may be a more successful treatment.

Most Nuclear Medicine studies require the injection of an isotope with an immediate series of images being taken. Depending on the body tissue being examined, taking the images may be delayed by an amount of time specified by the radiologist. This imaging study is performed while you lie on a comfortable table using an open design, dual-headed camera, known as a gamma camera.

Preparation

Depending on the type of Nuclear Medicine scan you are having, specific preparation instructions may be necessary.

Female patients with any chance of being pregnant will require a pregnancy test prior to examination. Nuclear Medicine procedures require a minimal amount of radiation which the body generally eliminates within 24 hours. Patients are encouraged to drink plenty of water following the scan to help with this process.

Common Nuclear Medicine Scans:

  • Bone
  • Brain
  • Breast
  • Gallium
  • Heart
  • Liver & Gallbladder
  • Renal
  • Thyroid