Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine is one way we can see what’s happening inside your body to help diagnose or rule out many kinds of diseases, including cancers. It also helps us monitor the functioning of certain organs, like the thyroid, heart, kidneys and stomach.

These tests use a small, safe amount of radioactive tracer that goes into specific organs, bones or tissues. This tracer emits gamma rays inside the body that can be detected by a specialized camera to help us see what’s happening inside your body.

clerk at nuclear medicine reception desk

What to Expect:

  • Depending upon your type of scan, you may either be asked to wear a gown and undress to your underwear, or wear loose fitting clothing.
  • Women who are nursing or suspect they may be pregnant should tell their doctor first before having a scan.
  • You may be given an IV injection in your arm or a radiopharmaceutical to inhale, injest or drink depending on your type of scan. It may take a few minutes or even a few days for the radioactive tracer to reach the specific area being studied.
  • You will lie on a padded table and be instructed to be in a position where the specialized camera can pick up the radioactive tracer in your body.
  • Your scan can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours depending on the type of scan being performed.
  • These procedures are very safe. The amount of radiation needed for the exam is minimal and your body will eliminate the tracer material typically within 24 hours.
  • Drinking extra water will help remove the radioactive tracer more quickly.