|Nuclear medicine uses tiny amounts of radioactive materials to perform heart studies and diagnose bone cancer, bone infections and stress fractures. The radioactive materials are introduced into the patient’s body by injection, swallowing or inhalation. Special cameras that work with computers detect the radioactive materials to provide sharp images of the body.|
A nuclear image provides your physician with specific information. The process is surprisingly simple for a procedure that produces such detailed images.
If you are scheduled to have a nuclear imaging procedure, you will first be given a small dose of a radioactive material, either by mouth or through an IV. This material will highlight specific parts of your body during the scan. It produces images that can't otherwise be captured. Using this technique can (in some cases) eliminate the need for exploratory surgery.
The actual imaging device looks like a big donut with a bed in the middle. You'll be able to lie on the bed and relax while the images are captured. Depending on what type of image your doctor orders, you may have to lie very still for several seconds at a time and lie on the bed for 20 minutes to an hour.
Your physician will tell you if there are any food restrictions before your nuclear scan. Typically, only scans of the stomach have restrictions on food before the procedure. Otherwise, plan on arriving at the hospital and either drinking a contrast solution or having an IV started. You'll be able to wear your clothes and usually your glasses and jewelry. Your body will discharge the radioactive material within hours and you should have no side effects.
The nuclear medicine team at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center will talk you through the entire process. We want you to be a partner in your healthcare, so please, ask questions. We will take the time to answer them.
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