Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine is a sub-specialty of Imaging Services that uses gamma rays to aid in diagnosing and evaluating medical conditions. Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive materials (radioisotopes) that are injected through an IV catheter, inhaled, or swallowed. The radioisotopes travel through the area being examined and emit energy in the form of gamma rays. The gamma rays are used to create images with a specialized camera and computer.

What preparation is needed?

  • Please bring a list of your current medications when you come for your appointment.
  • Report 15 minutes before your appointment time to the Imaging Department on the First Floor.
  • The preparation will vary depending upon the area being imaged. Some exams require that you have nothing to eat after midnight on exam day, and some exams require that you not have pain medication for a period prior to your exam time. Your physician should give you complete instructions prior to the examination.
  • In most cases, the radioisotope will be given through an IV catheter, so you can expect an IV insertion upon your arrival. The Nuclear Medicine technologist may ask you to change clothing and provide a gown for you to change into.

Who performs the examination?

The Nuclear Medicine exam will be performed by a registered technologist.

What happens before and during the examination?

  • Nuclear Medicine exam times can range from 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
  • The radioisotope is injected upon your arrival and imaging is performed immediately following the injection, or you will be instructed to return at a later time for imaging. The Nuclear Medicine technologist will give you a specific return time, if needed.
  • During the exam, you will lie on a table and the part of your body to be scanned will be positioned under the camera. The Nuclear Medicine technologist will assist in making you as comfortable as possible. The camera will periodically move throughout the exam.  The technologist will be in the room near you and will be able to talk with you during your exam.

What to expect after your examination?

You may return to your normal activities, unless otherwise instructed by your physician.

What about results?

Once the exam is completed, the images will be studied and interpreted by a Radiologist. A report will be available for your physician.

If you have questions, please call the Nuclear Medicine, 217-245-9541, ext. 3104.