Nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive materials, or radiopharmaceuticals, to image specific organs and functions within the body. A special type of camera, a gamma camera, is used to image the radiopharmaceuticals and produce images and data that provide information about the area of the body being imaged.

If you are pregnant, please discuss with your physician prior to scheduling a nuclear medicine test Please also notify the schedulers when making your appointment, as well as the technician at the imaging center.

  • Bone Scan
  • A bone scan is used to determine if you have abnormalities within your bones such as small stress fractures, cancer, tumors, infection or to determine the cause of unexplained pain.

    • Preparation
    • If you are pregnant or think you might be, please inform the technologist.
      It is important that you drink a lot of fluids prior to the test. This will improve the quality of your images. You may take your medications and eat before your test.

    • What to expect during the test
    • Upon arrival, we will review your medical history. You will be given an injection of a small amount of radioactive tracer. This is not a drug or dye. After the injection, you will be permitted to leave for 2 hours during which time we ask that you drink a minimum of 32 ounces of fluid. Upon your return you will be placed on a narrow imaging bed to allow the camera to pass over and below you taking images of your bones for approximately 20-40 minutes. You will be asked to remain still during the pictures. In some cases, your doctor might order a three-phase bone scan, which includes a series of images taken at different times. A number of images are taken as the tracer is injected, then again shortly after the injection and two to four hours later.

  • Hepatobiliary Scan
  • A hepatobiliary scan is used to determine if your gallbladder is functioning properly in the absence of gallstones. Additionally, it assists in determining if abdominal pain or nausea is related to gall bladder disease.

    • Preparation
    • If you are pregnant or think you might be, please inform the technologist. Do not eat or drink anything 4 hours prior to the test.

    • What to expect during the test
    • Upon arrival, we will review your medical history. A small I.V. will be inserted into your arm through which you will be given an injection of a small amount of a radioactive tracer. After the injection, you will be placed on a narrow imaging bed to allow pictures to be taken of your gallbladder. You will be asked to remain still as images are taken every 15 minutes. After 1 hour, you will be given medication through your I.V. that should make your gallbladder contract, with additional images taken 15 and 30 minutes later. This medication may make you feel warm or nauseated for a few minutes. This sensation will pass quickly, typically within a few minutes.

  • Renal/Kidney Scan
  • A renal or kidney scan is used to determine how well blood is flowing to your kidney and how well the kidneys are functioning. In some cases, this test can be used to determine if poor blood flow to the kidneys is a result of prolonged high blood pressure.

    • Preparation
      • If you are pregnant or think you might be, please inform the technologist.
      • No food 5 hours prior to the test.
      • You must drink a minimum of 32 ounces of fluid one hour before your appointment.
      • Diuretics, ACE Inhibitors and Angiotensin II Blockers must be stopped a minimum of 48 hours prior to exam.
      • Beta Blockers, Calcium Channel Blockers and Alpha Blockers can be continued.
      • Contact your physician or pharmacist to ask if your medications fall in one of these categories.

    • What to expect during the test
    • Upon arrival, we will review your medical history. A small I.V. will be started in your arm. In some cases you will be given a pill and have your blood pressure monitored for one hour. You will be placed on a narrow imaging bed to allow pictures to be taken of your kidneys. You will be given an injection of a small amount of radioactive tracer through your I.V. You will be asked to remain still as pictures are taken for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, you will be asked to empty your bladder and return for a one-minute picture.

  • Gallium Scan
  • A gallium scan is useful in the detection and localization of unknown sources of infection and abscess. It is also helpful in the diagnosis of conditions such as pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis and lymphoma. A gallium scan can assist the physician in monitoring the spread of cancer and the effectiveness of some cancer treatments.

    • Preparation
    • If you are pregnant or think you might be, please inform the technologist. Do not take any medication containing bismuth, such as Pepto-Bismol, 4 days before the test. You may need to take a laxative during the 48 hours after the injection to prevent the gallium in your colon from interfering with images of your abdomen.

    • What to expect during the test
    • Upon arrival, we will review your medical history. You will be given an injection of a small amount of a radioactive tracer. This is not a drug or dye. Depending on what your physician is looking for, you may return 24 hours and possibly 72 hours after the injection. When images are taken, you will be asked to lie flat on a narrow, padded table. Images will be taken with a special camera and will include your entire body. Imaging will take approximately 1 hour.

    • After the test
    • If you are breastfeeding, it is recommended that you discontinue for at least 4 weeks after the gallium scan is completed.

  • Liver/Spleen Scan
  • A liver scan may be performed to screen for diseases such as cancer, hepatitis, or cirrhosis. Lesions such as tumors, abscesses, or cysts of the liver or spleen may be seen on a liver scan. A liver scan may be performed to assess the condition of the liver and/or spleen after trauma to the abdomen or when there is unexplained pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. Enlargement of the liver or spleen may be seen on a liver scan.

    • Preparation
    • If you are pregnant or think you might be, please inform the technologist, otherwise, no prep.

    • What to expect during the test
    • You will be given an injection of a small amount of a radioactive tracer. This is not a drug or dye. Approximately 15 minutes after the injection, you will lie down on a narrow, padded table. A special camera will be lowered close to your body. Images will be taken for approximately 20-30 minutes.

  • Lung Scan
  • A lung perfusion scan is useful to evaluate the blood flow to the lungs. The absence or decrease of blood flow to all or part of the lung is indicative of a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot in the lung. However, pneumonia, emphysema, or lung tumors can create readings on the lung perfusion scan that falsely suggest a pulmonary embolism is present.

    • Preparation
    • If you are pregnant or think you might be, please inform the technologist, otherwise, no prep. It is very helpful to have a recent chest x-ray prior to the lung scan. This will assist the radiologist in interpreting the images.

    • What to expect during the test
    • You will be given an injection of a small amount of a radioactive tracer while lying on a narrow padded table. This is not a drug or dye. A special camera will be lowered close to your body. Images will be taken for approximately 20-30 minutes.

  • Gastric Scan
  • The study is used to evaluate patients who have symptoms suggestive of decreased, delayed, or rapid gastric emptying, and no visible abnormality to explain their symptoms.

    • Preparation
    • If you are pregnant or think you might be, please inform the technologist.
      Nothing to eat or drink after midnight.

    • What to expect during the test
    • You will be given a small amount of egg whites to eat that contains a small amount of radioactive tracer. You will then be lying flat on a table while images are taken of your stomach. Imaging will take approximately 1 - 4 hours.