What is nuclear medicine?
Nuclear medicine is a group of painless exams that use very small, safe amounts of radioactive material, either swallowed or injected, to generate images of internal organs. Special detectors track the material and then computer technology creates the images that help diagnose different diseases and conditions.
Nuclear medicine is used to scan the bones, brain, heart, liver or lungs. It can often identify problems long before they can be found by other tests. The exposure to radiation is very minimal.
Your safety is important
Legacy is committed to keeping radiation exposure to our patients as low as possible -- the "As Low As Reasonably Achievable" standard. By following this standard we minimize the risks of radiation while ensuring the quality of the images. Legacy maintains state-of-the art equipment that is regularly calibrated and inspected for compliance with national regulations. In addition, Legacy's equipment and facilities are inspected by several outside agencies on a routine basis.
What can I expect?
You will be asked to lie on a table, and there may be a waiting time between the injection and the scan. The procedure generally takes 30 to 90 minutes, although a cardiac exam can take up to three hours.
How will it feel?
You may feel discomfort from the needle stick, but the rest of the test is painless. During the scan, it's important that you lie as still as possible to make sure that we get the sharpest images.
How should I prepare?
- You will be asked not to eat anything for 4 - 6 hours before the scan, although you will be able to drink water.
- Tell your health care provider if you are or might be pregnant.
- Tell your health care provider about any prescription and over-the-counter medicines you are taking, because they may interfere with the test. Talk to your doctor if you take any blood thinners that would affect bleeding (Coumadin/Warfarin, Pradaxa).
- Please tell your health care provider if you have any allergies, or if you've had any recent imaging studies using injected dye (contrast).
- You will be asked to take off any jewelry, dentures, and other metal objects that could affect the scan results.
- You may be asked to wear a hospital gown.
RadiologyInfo.org web page on nuclear medicine