What is nuclear medicine and how does it work?
Nuclear medicine uses radioactive materials to help diagnose a variety of diseases and disorders. It can be helpful in assessing how different parts of your body are functioning, such as your thyroid, heart, bones, brain, lung, liver and gallbladder.
During the procedure, you are given a low-level radioactive compound that accumulates in the organ being examined. That organ will then continuously emit radiation that is detected by a special camera and processed through a computer. Patients typically do not experience side effects or allergic reactions since most of the compounds used in nuclear medicine are naturally-occurring substances in the body.
How do you prepare for your Nuclear Medicine procedure?
• You will be asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. Bring your prescription or referral. If you need to reschedule or cancel, call 24 hours in advance to avoid a cancellation fee.
• Let us know what medications you take, including non-prescription medicines and supplements.
• Tell us if you are or may be pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.
• You will receive an injected, oral, or inhaled preparation of an isotope (a radioactive material) before your exam. This material highlights the part of your body being examined and allows the radiologist to see how certain organs are functioning.
Special instructions for Gallbladder (HIDA) and Gastric Emptying scans:
• Do not eat or drink for 6 hours before the exam.
• No Barium studies for 5 days before the exam.
Special instructions for thyroid exams:
• Do not have any test that requires the use of contrast media for 6 weeks before your scan.
• Do not eat or drink for 4 hours before your scan.
• Discontinue medicines containing iodine and thyroid hormones for 3 weeks prior before the test. Please contact your referring physician for approval before you stop taking any medication.
• No multi-vitamins, or seafood or kelp-based food supplements one week prior to exam.
• No seafood for one week prior to exam.
What should you bring to your procedure?
• Prescription or referral from your physician
• Photo ID
• List of medications you take
• Insurance cards
• Previous nuclear medicine scans and reports performed outside of our network
• Medical history
What will you experience during your Nuclear Medicine scan?
• A technologist will take you to the exam room, ask you some medical questions, explain what you can expect during your test, and answer any questions.
During your Nuclear Medicine scan
• You will be given a radioactive compound called an isotope which will be injected, inhaled, or swallowed, depending on what type of test you are having.
• If your test requires you to return at a later time after the isotope is administered, the technologist will tell you when to return.
• The length of your test will vary depending on what type of exam is being performed.
After your Nuclear Medicine scan
• You can leave immediately after your test and resume your normal activities.
• The radiologist will review your scans and send the results to your physician. Urgent findings will be called or faxed in to your physician.
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