Nuclear Medicine is a medical specialty that uses radioactive substances to diagnose and treat disease.
During a nuclear medicine procedure, a patient will ingest, inhale or receive an injection of radioactive material called a radiopharmaceutical. Once this material has travelled to the organ(s) of interest, a technologist will take pictures using a special imaging system, called a gamma camera.
About Nuclear Medicine at Women’s College Hospital
The nuclear medicine division at Women’s College Hospital has three gamma cameras, including two new state-of-the-art hybrid SPECT/CT imaging systems. Both diagnostic and therapeutic nuclear medicine procedures are offered.
Nuclear medicine at Women’s College Hospital specializes in nuclear cardiology, particularly the use of myocardial perfusion imaging in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. Additional areas of specialty include the diagnosis and treatment of cancers common in women, including breast, thyroid, parathyroid, melanoma and neuroendocrine, as well as injuries related to sports medicine and rheumatologic disorders.
Are you having a nuclear medicine exam? View the exam information below.
What do I need to do to prepare?
We recommend speaking to your referring doctor about any medications you are taking or allergies you may have. Jewelry and other metal objects should not be worn, or should be taken off prior to the exam, as they may interfere with obtaining optimal image quality during the procedure. In some cases, it may be necessary to empty your bladder immediately prior to your scan.
What will I feel during the scan?
Nuclear medicine tests are non-invasive. Some require ingesting or inhaling a dye known as a tracer, or receiving an intravenous injection of the tracer before imaging. Pain is unlikely and is comparable to having your blood taken.
How long will the exam last?
The length of time depends on the type of test being performed, with various tests ranging from 20 minutes (thyroid scan) to 4 hours (myocardial perfusion scan) in duration. An average test will usually require about an hour of your time.
What am I supposed to do after my exam?
There are no post-procedural instructions required and you may resume normal activities. In order to minimize the radiation exposure to patients, you will be encouraged to drink additional fluid and empty your bladder frequently until bed time after having a nuclear medicine procedure.
When can I expect results?
A report will be sent to your doctor within 10 days.