Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine imaging uses small amounts of radioactive materials called radiotracers that are typically injected into the bloodstream, inhaled or swallowed. The radiotracer is absorbed by the organ (or body region) being examined, and gives off energy in the form of gamma rays which are detected by a special camera and a computer to create images of the inside of your body. Nuclear medicine imaging provides unique information that often cannot be obtained using other imaging procedures and offers the potential to identify disease in its earliest stages.

Nuclear medicine can measure gallbladder, thyroid and heart function. It gauges the effectiveness of bypass surgery, blood supply to the heart, bone fractures and more. One of the major benefits is that all of the information can be obtained without administering anesthesia or causing discomfort to the patient.

What to Expect During Your Nuclear Medicine Test?

Click here to learn how to prepare for your nuclear medicine test.

Diagnostics That Can Be Acquired Through Nuclear Medicine/Tests

Heart

  • visualize heart blood flow and function (such as a myocardial perfusion scan)
  • detect coronary artery disease and the extent of coronary stenosis
  • assess damage to the heart following a heart attack
  • evaluate treatment options such as bypass heart surgery and angioplasty
  • evaluate the results of revascularization procedures
  • detect heart transplant rejection
  • evaluate heart function before and after chemotherapy (MUGA)

Lungs

  • scan lungs for respiratory and blood flow problems
  • assess differential lung function for lung reduction or transplant surgery
  • detect lung transplant rejection

Bones

  • evaluate bones for fractures, infection and arthritis
  • evaluate for metastatic bone disease
  • evaluate painful prosthetic joints
  • evaluate bone tumors
  • identify sites for biopsy

Brain

  • investigate abnormalities in the brain in patients with certain symptoms or disorders, such as seizures, memory loss and suspected abnormalities in blood flow
  • detect the early onset of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease
  • assist in surgical planning and localize seizure foci
  • evaluate for abnormalities in a chemical in the brain involved in controlling movement in patients with suspected Parkinson's disease or related movement disorders
  • evaluation for suspected brain tumor recurrence, surgical or radiation planning or localization for biopsy

Other Systems

  • identify inflammation or abnormal function of the gallbladder
  • identify bleeding into the bowel
  • assess post-operative complications of gallbladder surgery
  • evaluate lymphedema
  • evaluate fever of unknown origin
  • locate the presence of infection
  • measure thyroid function to detect an overactive or underactive thyroid
  • help diagnose hyperthyroidism and blood cell disorders
  • evaluate for hyperparathyroidism
  • evaluate stomach emptying
  • evaluate spinal fluid flow and potential spinal fluid leaks

Nuclear Medicine Therapies Include:

Nuclear Medicine Hours

Nuclear medicine scans are performed Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for all scheduled outpatients, in-patients and Emergency Department patients.

On-call technologists are available to perform emergency exams Monday through Friday, from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m.

More Information

You can find extensive, highly reliable information about all types of Nuclear Medicine examinations and procedures at www.radiologyinfo.org.

Please contact the Scheduling Line at 540-316-5800 to schedule your appointment. If you have any questions about your Nuclear Medicine scan, please call the Medical Imaging Department at 540-316-4500.