Nuclear Medicine is a branch of medical imaging in which images of your body anatomy and function are produced from the detection of energy emitted from a radioactive substance given to the patient. The radioactive substance is administered either intravenously or by mouth.
Nuclear medicine images assist your doctor in diagnosing diseases, tumors, infections and other types of disorders. The radiation exposure is similar to that resulting from standard diagnostic imaging X-rays.
During the exam you will lie on a scanning table with a specialized nuclear imaging camera being the only piece of equipment you may notice. The camera is enclosed to facilitate imaging specific parts of the body. It is typically suspended from a movable post or a sleek metal arm that hangs over the exam table. A nearby computer console processes the information gathered from the examination.
For thyroid studies it is important that you have discontinued thyroid medications, multivitamins, and have not had a contrasted exam. Some medications should be discontinued for up to 2 weeks prior to exam. Please check with your physician or the NM department if you have questions about discontinuing medications.
These tests are not recommended for pregnant women, or nursing mothers in most instances. Please be sure to inform the technologist if you are pregnant or nursing.
Some NM exams require that you do not have anything to eat or drink prior, please check with the scheduling department, your physician or with the NM department if you have questions.
Some NM exams will require that you spend up to 3-4 hours in the department, you may be able to leave the department and return, or you may bring books or music players.
Typically no advance preparation is required for a nuclear medicine exam with the following 2 exceptions:
If your stomach area is being evaluated you may be asked to skip a meal prior to your test
If your kidneys are being evaluated you may be asked to drink plenty of water prior to your test
Upon arrival for your exam the technologist will escort you to a room to be given a small dose of radioactive material. The dose may be administered orally or intravenously (IV) and will accumulate in the area of your body to be examined. This typically takes about 30 minutes.
Your exam may be performed immediately after the injection or you may be allowed to leave and return to the imaging center in 1 to 3 hours.
The technologist will escort you to the examination room to begin the procedure which typically lasts from 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Our technologist will prepare and guide you by explaining the procedure and positioning you to ensure the highest quality images are obtained from your exam. You will need to remain as still as possible while the images are obtained.
Results are available within 24 - 48 hours.
Once the exam is complete, a physician will review the study and dictate a report. This report will be sent to the doctor who ordered your study. We recommend that you call and schedule a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss the results.
Typically, the healthcare provider calls, faxes or submits an online request for the nuclear medicine exam. Then we call you to confirm your appointment date and time. However, if your healthcare provider asks you to schedule your exam, simply call us or visit our Request an Appointment page. We will make sure the exam is timely and convenient and that it meets any special requirements of your insurance carrier and healthcare provider.
When you call, we will need to know which exam your healthcare provider ordered and why. We will also ask you for your insurance information. You will need to pay any co-pay or deductible at the time of the exam. We conveniently file your claim with your insurance provider.
Most of our facilities offer same-day (insurance permitting), evening and weekend appointments. Prior to your appointment, we will give you the estimated total cost, what you will owe at the time of service, and payment options. We will also fax reports and provide images to your healthcare provider.