Burnett Medical Center Diagnostic Imaging department provides fully digital, state-of-the-art imaging services for your diagnosis and treatment. We accept orders from providers at our facility or outside providers and specialists. Nuclear medicine is one of the many diagnostic imaging services available at BMC.
What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine imaging is a radiology specialty in which radioactive tracers, also known as radiopharmaceuticals, are utilized for the examination of organs and their functions. The practice uses a combination of chemistry, math, medicine, physics and computer technology to analyze internal structures, treat and diagnose medical conditions in their early stages. Unlike x-ray imaging which is primarily used for examining anatomy, nuclear medicine is used for monitoring organs and tissue function.
What is a Nuclear Medicine Scan Used For?
Nuclear medicine scans are used for examining many different areas of the body. Each type of scan is different in that they all make use of certain technologies, procedures, and radiopharmaceuticals. It is most often used for monitoring and diagnosing various medical conditions using:
- Bone scans
- Brain scans
- Heart scans
- Renal scans
- Thyroid scans
How Are Nuclear Medicine Scans Done?
Each scan will look different, dependent upon the patients needs and individual health concerns. Nuclear medicine scans utilize radioactive tracers, which help your technologist track and locate problems within the body. The entire process is made up of three phases; Administration of the tracer, taking the images, and interpretation of the imaging. The time between tracer administration and taking photos may last a few moments or up to a few days. For some patients, your scan can be completed the same day, for others, you may be asked to return over the course of multiple days.
Your scan will be conducted in a quiet, private room during your scheduled appointment at BMC. You may be asked to remove any jewelry, accessories or clothing that may interfere with the procedure. A medical gown will be provided for you to change into. Lying on a flat procedure table, your BMC nuclear medicine technologist will inject an IV of the radionuclide into your hand or arm, attach you to an electrocardiogram machine and a blood pressure cuff. When it’s time to image, a gamma camera will be positioned over you to obtain images as blood pumps the tracer through the body. Your technologist may ask you to change positions during the scan, but it is important to lie completely still without talking for the best imaging.
Nuclear Medicine Preparation
Preparing for nuclear medicine depends on the scan being performed. When scheduling your nuclear medicine scan a technologist will go over the necessary preparation.