About Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear medicine uses computer technology and radioactive substances to produce images of the body and treat disease.
Why is it done?
Nuclear medicine is particularly useful for detecting tumors, aneurysms, irregular blood flow to tissues, infections, fractures and inadequate functioning of certain organs. Common uses of nuclear medicine include diagnosis and treatment of hyperthyroidism and with cardiac stress tests to analyze heart function, bone scans for orthopedic injuries, lung scans for blood clots and liver and gall bladder procedures to diagnose abnormal function or blockages.
How is it done?
Before the examination you will be given a radioactive tracer to make tissues visible on the scans. Depending on the type of exam your physician ordered, you may be scanned immediately or asked to wait. Bones, organs, glands and blood vessels each use a different radioactive compound as a tracer, which is either ingested or injected, depending on the type of test. The radioisotopes have very low radiation levels that decay in minutes or hours and do not harm the body. After you have received the radioactive tracer, the technologist will position you on a padded table. You will be asked to lie as still as possible through the exam. Exam times will vary depending on the exam ordered. The technologist will set the time expectations prior to the exam.