Nuclear Medicine evaluates various medical problems by imaging the function of the body’s organ systems. A small amount of radioactive material is used to track and locate normal and disease processes. Specialized cameras called gamma cameras are used to image the body and analyze the location, concentration and movement of the radioactive material. The procedures performed in Nuclear Medicine pertain to a wide range of medical specialties including cardiology, oncology, orthopedics and thyroid imaging, and limited therapy.
The NorthCrest Nuclear Medicine Department is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR). All images are reviewed and stored electronically on a PACS which allows prompt reporting. The radioactive material used in all Nuclear Medicine procedures must be injected, ingested or inhaled by the patient. The material does not cause any side effects and the radiation dose in very minimal.
Nuclear Medicine procedures performed at NorthCrest Medical Center include:
- Bone Scans (Whole Body, 3 phase and SPECT)
- Gastric Emptying Studies (NPO, radioactive material in eggs please note if patient is allergic to eggs)
- GI Bleed Scan
- Hepatobiliary Scans (NPO)
- Indium Scan (for infection localization)
- Liver/Spleen Scan
- Liver SPECT (looking for hemangiomas)
- Meckel’s Diverticulum’s (NPO)
- Lung Scan-Ventilation and Perfusion
- Resting MUGA
- Rest and Stress Cardiolites Exercise and Pharmacologic (no heart or blood pressure medicines and no caffeine)
- Parathyroid Scan
- Renal Scan/Renogram
- Sentinel Node Injection – Breast and melanoma (for surgical localization)
- Thyroid Uptake and Scan – I 123 (patient should be off thyroid meds, 2 – 4 weeks, no IV contrast agents for 6 weeks prior, OTC daily vitamins for 1 week, certain blood thinners for 1 week)
- Brain Death
- Thyroid Therapy for Hyperthyroidism (doses up to 29.9 mCi) (Thyroid Ablation)
Facts about Nuclear Medicine Procedures
Many Nuclear Medicine exams cannot be done if the patient has had any procedure using barium (UGI, BE, Small Bowel studies) 24 – 48 hours prior to the nuclear medicine study.
Are Nuclear Medicine procedures safe?
Nuclear Medicine studies are safe. Patient receives a very small amount of the radioactive material.
How should I prepare for the study?
When the procedure is scheduled, you will be provided the necessary preparatory information. Before the procedure is performed you should let the technologist know if you have recently had a nuclear medicine procedure, are pregnant or nursing, have any allergies, or have had recent surgery.
Should medications be stopped prior to the procedure?
Some medications can interfere with nuclear medicine studies and need to be held until the procedure is completed. Please discuss with your physician medications that may need to be discontinued until after the exam.
Why do nuclear medicine procedures take so long?
The length of time for each procedure varies greatly. The time needed for the tracer to reach the part of the body being studied could take a couple of hours or a couple of days.
Does the tracer cause any side effects?
Side effects are very rare, but if the patient feels anything out of the ordinary, please inform the technologist.
Normal activities can be resumed following the procedure. If medications have been withheld prior to your nuclear medicine procedure, discuss with your physician when to continue with the regular dose.
You do not need to avoid contact with people after a nuclear medicine procedure with the exception of Thyroid therapies. Special instructions and education will be given to those patients having thyroid therapy.
Children can have nuclear medicine procedures. The amount of tracer used is specifically adjusted for the child’s size. Sedation is sometimes required, depending upon the child and the procedure being performed.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women can have nuclear medicine procedures, depending on the overall risk to the pregnant patient based on their clinical indication; this will be determined by the ordering physician.
The patient will also have to sign a consent form.