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NUCLEAR MEDICINE

What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine involves the use of radioisotopes and special imaging equipment to diagnose a variety of diseases and disorders. Patients are given a radiopharmaceutical that is injected, inhaled or swallowed. This compound travels to the part of the body of interest and is detected by the imaging equipment.

Are there any side effects to this medication?
Radioisotopes for diagnostic studies are safe. The FDA mandates and monitors exposure limits for patients and technologists to ensure safety.

Why is a nuclear medicine exam necessary?
Nuclear medicine images can assist your physician in diagnosing diseases and assessing gland function. Tumors, infection and other disorders can be detected by evaluating organ function. Specifically, nuclear medicine can be used to:
• Analyze kidney function
• Image blood flow and function of the heart
• Scan lungs for respiratory and blood-flow problems
• Identify blockage or dysfunction of the gallbladder
• Evaluate bones for fracture, infection, arthritis or tumor
• Determine the presence or spread of cancer
• Locate the presence of infection
• Measure thyroid function to detect an overactive or under-active thyroid

What should I expect during a nuclear medicine exam?
Nuclear medicine procedures are completely painless, although some procedures do require an IV injection. Patients lie on an exam table and are asked to hold still. Some procedures are done in two parts with the patient returning to the center after a few hours to complete the exam. In most cases, the imaging process is completed in one hour or less.

Is there any preparation for my exam?
Some exams require that you not eat or drink for eight hours prior to the exam, while other exams do not. Please ask your health care provider for instructions, see the exam list below, or feel free to ask the professionals at Dalton Imaging Center.

Can I have a Nuclear Medicine scan during pregnancy?
No. Radiation can be very harmful to an unborn fetus. You should not have any type X-ray or other radiation during pregnancy. If there is any possibility that you may be pregnant, please inform your technologist.

May I have a Nuclear Medicine scan when I am breastfeeding?
If you have a nuclear medicine scan you will need to suspend nursing for 72 hours after the scan. Please inform your technologist if you are nursing.

When can I receive my results?
Your results will be faxed to your doctor’s office the same day as your exam. A radiologist is available to tailor the exam and discuss any concerns you may have. Dalton Imaging Center will also provide the films to your doctor’s office upon request. Because Dalton Imaging Center recognizes that tests and other medical procedures can be unsettling at times, we make every effort to completely answer any questions related to testing procedures.

HIDA (Hepatobiliary) Scan
A HIDA scan is a nuclear medicine test which determines the functional ability of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is an organ which stores bile (made by the liver), for release when a fatty meal is eaten. Bile helps to digest fat and other substances.

The HIDA test lasts approximately one hour and 45 minutes. The patient should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight. A radioisotope is injected into a vein and is then secreted into the bile ducts and collected by the gallbladder. After one hour, a second medicine is then given to stimulate the gallbladder to contract. Scans are taken for 45 minutes during this process.

The computer is then used to determine how well the gallbladder functions. The first injection does not have any side effects. The second injection may reproduce patient symptoms with stomach cramps, similar to eating a fatty meal.

Whole Body Bone Scan
A Whole Body bone scan is a nuclear medicine test which determines whether there is any unusual activity in the bones. Infections, arthritis, cancer and other diseases can be detected with this exam.

The test is done in two parts. The patient comes in for the injection of radioisotope (usually in the morning), and returns three hours later for the scans. Patients can eat as normal but are asked to drink at least 40-48 ounces of liquids between the injection and the scan. (They may use the restroom as needed.) On returning to the center, they will have 30 - 40 minutes of scanning time. (Some scans are lying down, others are sitting or standing.) No side effects are felt and patients may return to normal routine after the exam.

Three-Phase Bone Scan
A three-phase bone scan is a dynamic scan in which a radioisotope is injected intravenously and the patient’s blood flow to the area of interest is scanned for 15 minutes. The patient will then return in three hours for delayed images just like with the whole body bone scan. No side effects are felt and patients may return to normal routine after the exam.

Thyroid Scan and Uptake
The thyroid scan and uptake is a test which is used to show hyperactive, hypoactive or normal thyroid function. The radioisotope (in pill form) is taken and the patient returns four hours later for their scan. The patient will be able to eat and drink, but will be asked not to consume seafood or especially salty foods (processed foods such as canned, restaurant and already prepared foods.) The scans take 20-35 minutes depending on the individual’s thyroid function. Patient may return to normal routine afterward.

MUGA Scan
The MUGA is a multi-gated study of the heart which shows the ejection efficiency of the left ventricle. The patient is given an injection of a phosphate to help with the uptake of the radioisotope. After waiting 15 minutes, the radioisotope will be injected and the scan will begin. Scanning takes about 20-30 minutes. Patient may return to normal routine afterward.

Lung Ventilation and Perfusion Scan
Indication for test:
1. Suspicion of thromboembolic disease (blood clots).
2. Work-up of patients with carcinoma of the lung.
3. Evaluation of regional ventilation in various lung diseases.

a. Tuberculosis (TB)
b. Bronchiectasis
c. Emphysema
d. Hyperlucent lung bronchial foreign body

Patient preparation: None

Procedure for ventilation portion of test:
Patient will breathe an aerosol which contains oxygen and a radioisotope for about 10 minutes. (Similar to a breathing treatment) After this, several different images of the lungs will be obtained. This will take 30-40 minutes.

Procedure for perfusion portion of test:
Patient will lie down flat on exam table for injection of radioisotope. This portion of the test will demonstrate blood-flow to the lungs. After the injection, the patient will sit up for several different images of the lungs. This will take 30-40 minutes.


 

 

 
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