Nuclear medicine tests use a small amount of radioactive material and a special camera to show early signs of disease. The images show doctors information about tissue structure and function. Nuclear medicine can also be used to help treat disease.
Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital has two nuclear medicine cameras. They provide bone, lung, myocardial perfusion (stress test), thyroid, parathyroid, liver, biliary, gastric emptying, gastrointestinal bleeding, renal, infection and brain imaging.
Types of Nuclear Medicine Exams and How to Prepare:
Nuclear Stress Test (MIBI) Exams Duration: 4 hours Preparation: No caffeine or decaf coffee or tea for 24 hours prior to test. Please call the nuclear medicine department (617-983-7888) if you weigh over 250 lbs.
Gastric Emptying Preparation: Nothing to eat four hours before test.
HIDA Scan Preparation: Nothing to eat four hours before test except for water.
Renal Scan Preparation: Drink sufficient amount of fluid on the day of test before arriving.
Thyroid Uptake Preparation: Show up 24 hours prior to your appointment for capsule administration.
Bone Scan Preparation: Arrive three hours before your appointment for injection.
Nuclear medicine exams can vary based on the type of test. Some tests can be done in an hour. Others may take a few hours or occur over several days.
A licensed nuclear medicine technologist will greet you and bring you to a room where your test will be done. You may be asked to change into a hospital gown for your test. Most tests start with an injection of radioactive material. This is similar to having blood drawn. The injection should not make you feel any different. Next, you will lie on an imaging bed in the exam room while a special camera takes pictures of the body part(s) being studied. The camera does not produce radiation, but detects the radioactive material in the organs, bone or tissue. The images provide information about the area in question. It is important to lie still for the entire test and you will be made as comfortable as possible.
The nuclear medicine technologist will check all the images with a staff physician before you leave. The staff physician may ask for more images and may look at imaging studies you have had before.
The benefit of a test is always compared to any risks. Nuclear medicine scans provide very valuable information to doctors to diagnose and treat disease. To do this, a very small amount of radioactive material is given. The amount of radiation in a typical nuclear imaging test is similar to that of a diagnostic X-ray.
Women who are or think they may be pregnant should always check with their doctor before a scan. If you are or think you may be pregnant, please let the nuclear medicine technologist know ahead of time to make sure proper precautions are taken.
A licensed nuclear medicine technologist who has passed a certification exam given by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists will perform your exam.
Once finished, your exam will be read by a board certified nuclear medicine physician. A radiologist is a doctor trained to diagnose conditions seen on medical imaging tests. The radiologist will send the report to your ordering provider.