Nuclear Imaging is a specialized area of radiology which images
organs and body functions through the emission of radioactive
materials given to the patient. The radioactive materials are
given orally, in a pill form, or through an intravenous injection.
Using nuclear medicine radiologists can evaluate kidney, cardiac
and thyroid function and diagnose diseases (such as cancer),
bone fracture, infection, arthritis and other tumors.
with all radiological procedures patients should inform the technologist
if there is any chance of pregnancy.
There is little or no preparation for most nuclear medicine examinations.
If the procedure involves gastric emptying, fasting prior to examination
is required. For exams involving the kidneys you will be
asked to drink fluids prior to the procedure. Patients scheduling
thyroid examinations should consult their physician for appropriate
preparation. For 24 hours following a nuclear imaging
study most patients are instructed to drink plenty of fluids.
The residual radioactive material decays normally and passes out
of the body though the urine and stool.
The material needed for a nuclear scan is ordered specifically
for each procedure and therefore appointments must be scheduled
carefully and honored by the patient.
The radioactive material given to the patient is specific to the
particular body organ or function to be imaged. Once injected
or taken orally it collects in the organ. Depending upon the specific
scan it could take several hours or overnight for the material
When the patient is ready to be scanned they are placed on a scanning
table. Patients are asked to stay as still as possible. The accumulated
material gives off energy as gamma rays. The camera in the machine
detects the rays emitted and computers produce images of
the organs and tissues.
If you would like additional information on these procedures we
recommend visiting the Nuclear Medicine section of RadiologyInfo.org.