Is a nuclear medicine procedure painful?
The radionuclides are often given as an intravenous injection and are no more painful than a routine blood test. The scanning procedure is most often performed with the patient supine (lying on your back). The nuclear medicine technologist will attempt to make you as comfortable as possible during the test. Please let them know about any medical conditions that may require special attention. Often a pillow under the knees is able to relieve any positional back pain and make the scan more comfortable.
How much radiation exposure is involved?
The radiation exposure in a nuclear medicine scan is from the low energy gamma component of the radionuclide and varies depending on the specific test. There is no radiation coming from the general nuclear medicine camera, it is merely a detector of radiation. A typical procedural dose is in the range of the radiation received from the average annual background radiation dose in the U.S. If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to ask the nuclear medicine staff.
What preparations are required?
Patient preparation varies according to the specific exam your physician has ordered. Many NM scans require little to no preparation; however, some procedures do require very specific patient preparation in order to obtain accurate, valid results. Please call the Nuclear Medicine Department at Ext. 2732 prior to the day of your scan if you have any questions as to the preparations.
How long does the procedure take?
Typically, the images portion of the procedure takes 15-60 minutes. Some exams involve a waiting period for the radionuclide to be absorbed by the target tissue. Many exams require several scanning sessions, hours apart or occasionally on a separate day. Ask you doctor or the technologist for a complete explanation. You can always call the Nuclear Medicine Department at Ext. 2732 if you have questions for the staff.
When will my physician get the results?
A nuclear medicine physician will evaluate your scan and dictate a comprehensive interpretative report of the findings. This report is normally sent to your physician within 1-2 working days. Results from Emergent or STAT scans are conveyed to your physician as soon as the scan is complete.
Are there any side effects to the radionuclide?
The vast majority of patients feel no differently after the radionuclide administration. Occasionally patients may detect a slight metallic taste after the injection as a small portion of the radionuclide is sometimes absorbed by the salivary glands. There have been rare cases of allergic reaction to the radionuclides documented in the literature (2-3 incidents per 100,000 injections), but they often are nothing more than mild skin rashes.
Does this interfere with other exams or procedures?
Often the nuclear medicine scan can be performed on the same day as other imaging exams; however, there are some exams that pose a conflict. Please ask your physician or call the Nuclear Medicine Department at Ext. 2732 if you have questions regarding potential scheduling sequence conflicts or exam interactions.
Can nuclear medicine procedures be performed on children?
Nuclear medicine exams are routinely performed on children. Sometimes a nuclear medicine exam is preferred for children as it gives less radiation exposure than a comparable radiographic procedure. The radiation dose is adjusted downward according to the child's age and body weight. Any questions about the radiation dose and the risks should be directed to your child's physician or the nuclear medicine physician