Nuclear Medicine FAQs

What is nuclear medicine scan?

Nuclear medicine uses a small amount of radioactive material called tracer or radionuclide. The purpose of the study is to provide an image that evaluates organ function and locates disease and tumors. Nuclear medicine scans also show the size, shape and position of the organ being scanned. These images are obtained with a spatial camera capable of analyzing the energy produced by the radioactive substance.

How should I prepare for the nuclear medicine scan?

Our office will inform you about any specific instructions for eating prior to the exam. Wear loose, comfortable clothing for the test. The radioactive material used is made precisely for the time of your test, so it is very important that you be on time for the examination. Please inform our office about any medication you are taking which could interfere with the radioactive materials. 

What can you expect during the exam?

Depending on the part of the body to be examined, you may need to wear a hospital gown. Remove all jewelry, dentures and other metals that may affect the scan.

Prior to the scan, you will be given a small amount of radioactive material either by injection or orally. The radiotracer will eventually collect in the organ being examined. This may take minutes or hours or even days depending on the type of the examination. A special camera called a gamma camera and a computer are used to collect the necessary information from the tracer.

How long does the procedure take?

The amount of time for the procedure varies with each test. For many tests, a certain amount of time is needed which can be from a few minutes to a few hours. In some procedures, you may have to come back a day or two later to complete the exam. Our technologist will inform you in detail about this part of the study. 

Uses of Nuclear Medicine Imaging Techniques

Nuclear medicine imaging techniques are used to detect many diseases and abnormalities.  These include:
  • Bone Disorders
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders
  • Thyroid Gland
  • Lungs
  • Kidneys
  • Brain Disorders
  • Cancers

What are the risks of a nuclear medicine scan?


Nuclear medicine procedures are very safe. The amount of radioactive material used is extremely small. The radioactivity of the tracer is very short lived and exposure to radiation is limited.

When will you know the results?


The pictures are reviewed by a radiologist who is a specially trained physician in nuclear medicine. The radiologist will send your doctor a written report. You should contact your physician within 2-3 days of the exam to make an appointment to go over your results and discuss your next step.

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