Nuclear Imaging

Emerson Hospital uses the latest nuclear medicine techniques to determine how well certain organs like the kidneys, heart, lungs and gallbladder are functioning. Images are produced by detecting radiation from a radioactive tracer material administered into the body. A radiologist then interprets the digital images for diagnosis.

Nuclear Imaging services are available at our Main Campus.

  • Preparing for Nuclear Imaging

    • You will receive specific instructions based on the type of scan you are undergoing. In general, the following guidelines apply to all scans.
      • You should inform your physician of any medications you are taking, as well as vitamins and herbal supplements and if you have any allergies. Also inform your doctor about recent illnesses or other medical conditions. Upon checking in, you will be asked to provide a list of medications you are currently taking and also a list of known allergies.
      • Most nuclear medicine procedures do not require patients to fast, however there are some that do. Specific instructions will be provided upon scheduling of these procedures.
      • Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your appointment time.
      • You will wear your own clothing during the scan; therefore, please wear something without metal clasps or zippers, as they will interfere with the study. Jewelry and other accessories should be left at home if possible or removed prior to the scan as well.
  • What to Expect During the Exam

    • Radioactive tracers are typically injected into a vein and have no side effects. The amount of radiation a patient receives is very low.
    • Patients undergoing a nuclear medicine procedure are administered (either intravenously or orally) a small amount of an appropriate radionuclide for the organ or body system being studied.
    • After the radionuclide is administered, the procedure may take place immediately or up to several hours or days later. It depends on how long it takes for a particular radionuclide to travel through the body and accumulate in the organ site.
    • During a nuclear exam, you will most likely be required to lie down on a scanning table and remain very still while the images are being obtained.
    • Most procedures take approximately 20 to 45 minutes.
    • After the procedure, a doctor with specialized training in nuclear medicine will interpret your images and forward a report to your physician. 
  • After the Exam

    • When the scan is completed, you may be asked to wait until the technologist checks the images in case additional images are needed.
    • If you had an IV line inserted for the procedure, it will be removed.
    • Through the natural process of radioactive decay, the small amount of radiotracer in your body will lose its radioactivity over time. In many cases, the radioactivity will dissipate over the first 24 hours following the test and pass out of your body through your urine or stool.
    • You may be instructed to take special precautions after urinating, to flush the toilet twice and to wash your hands thoroughly. You should also drink plenty of water to help flush the radioactive material out of your body.
    • Unless your physician tells you otherwise, you may resume your normal activities after your nuclear medicine scan.
  • About Nuclear Imaging

    Nuclear medicine is an innovative subspecialty of diagnostic radiology that detects disease or abnormalities in the body using radionuclides and a special camera called a gamma camera.

    A radionuclide is a combination of a pharmaceutical and a small quantity of radioactive material called a radioisotope. There are different radionuclides available to study different parts of the body. Each radionuclide is designed to travel to a specific body organ or system, where it then gives off energy as gamma rays.

    The gamma camera detects these rays and works with a computer to produce images and measurements of the organs and tissues. Nuclear medicine procedures can often eliminate the need for more invasive diagnostic tests.  


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