Nuclear Medicine

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nuclear-medicine

Nuclear medicine is a method for your doctor to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases and conditions. Specific organs and structures within your body can be studied using nuclear medicine. This makes it possible to view parts of the body and diagnose conditions that would typically require surgery, and can detect certain disease in very early stages.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are nuclear medicine procedures safe?
Yes, nuclear medicine procedures are safe. You will receive a very small amount of tracer, just enough to get a proper image of the area being studied.

How should I prepare for the test?
When you call the Appointment Center to schedule a test, you will be given any prep information necessary. Typically, no special preparation is necessary, but some tests might need minor prep. Before beginning the test, it is important to let the technologist know if you recently had a nuclear medicine test, if you are pregnant or nursing, if you had recent surgery, or if you have any allergies.

Too much movement could distort the images and not give an accurate picture of the organ or structure. Make sure you dress comfortably and warmly. Sometimes the exam rooms can feel cool. Also, if lying on your back for long periods of time is not comfortable, take a pain reliever before the test. All of these tips will help keep you as comfortable as possible throughout your exam.

Should I stop taking any medication prior to the test?
Usually, medication will not affect the outcome of a nuclear medicine test. But, you may want to check with your doctor before your test.

Why do nuclear medicine tests take so long?
The length of time for each exam varies greatly. The time needed for the tracer to reach the part of the body being studied could take a couple hours, or a couple days. Also, the images needed could take minutes or hours. When you call for an appointment, the scheduler should be able to give you a time estimate for the exam.

Does the tracer cause any side effects?
Side effects are rare, but if you feel anything out of the ordinary, please let your technologist know immediately.

Can I resume my normal activities after the test?
The vast majority of people having a nuclear medicine exam resume normal activities following the test. If your doctor stopped or reduced any medication prior to having the test, you should find out when/if you should continue on your regular dose.

Should I avoid physical contact with others?
No, most tracers remain in your body for a short time and then are removed through natural methods. Drinking more could help speed the process. However, if you're having radioiodine treatment (for the thyroid) your doctor may have guidelines to follow.

Can children have nuclear medicine tests?
Yes, the amount of tracer used is specifically adjusted for the child's size. Sedation is sometimes needed, depending on the child and the test being given.

What pre-cautions should i take if I am breastfeeding?

Nuclear medicine tests or therapies use radioactive materials, which may pass through you to your breast milk. To prevent this from being ingested by your infant, it is recommended that breastfeeding be stopped for a period of time after your nuclear medicine appointment. For most nuclear medicine studies the interruption period will be brief.

If I am being referred for my thyroid, is there a special diet i should seek?

A low-iodine diet could be recommended if you have been referred for your thyroid. Following this diet will help your thyroid more efficiently absorb the radioactive iodine, which, in turn, may make the radioactive iodine treatment more effective.