You will need to pre-register for your nuclear medicine exam. Call:
- Toll-free 1-855-273-SCAN (7226)
- 704-384-SCAN (7226)
One of the most important advancements diagnostic imaging is the development of the safe use of radioactive material to enhance many of our standard tests such as X-rays and CT scans. This science, called nuclear medicine, allows the doctors at Presbyterian to use a small amount of radioactive material to more precisely see the size, shape and function of organs in diagnosing diseases, tumors, infections and other types of disorders.
The use of radioactive material is safe and can be either ingested or injected into your body. The actual level of radiation you receive is very small, about the same as with X-rays or CT scans.
For Your Safety
Some nuclear medicine tests are not recommended for pregnant women, or nursing mothers in most instances. Please be sure to inform the technologist if you are pregnant or nursing.
Nuclear medicine procedures result in a small dose of radiation from the radiopharmaceutical injection. There are no known long-term adverse effects from such low dose exams. Although it is extremely rare, risk of an allergic reaction to the radiopharmaceutical can occur. While side effects to nuclear medicine tests are rare, if you have any questions, please ask the technologist before the exam begins. Most of the radioactivity will pass from your body in urine or stool while the remainder disappears naturally over time.
Preparing for a Nuclear Medicine Exam
Typically no advance preparation is required for a nuclear medicine exam. Some exams require that you do not have anything to eat or drink prior, please check with the scheduling department, your physician or with the Nurclear Medicine department if you have questions. Generally speaking:
- If your stomach area is being evaluated, you may be asked to skip a meal prior to your test.
- If your kidneys are being evaluated, you may be asked to drink plenty of water prior to your test.
During the exam you will lie on a scanning table with a specialized nuclear imaging camera being the only piece of equipment you may notice. The camera is enclosed to facilitate imaging specific parts of the body. It is typically suspended from a movable post or a sleek metal arm that hangs over the exam table. A nearby computer console processes the information gathered from the examination.
For thyroid studies it is important that you have discontinued thyroid medications, multivitamins, and have not had a contrasted exam. Some medications should be discontinued for up to 2 weeks prior to exam. Please check with your physician or the Nuclear Medicine department if you have questions about discontinuing medications.
What to Expect During a Nuclear Imaging Exam
Upon arrival for your exam the technologist will escort you to a room to be given a small dose of radioactive material. The dose may be administered orally or intravenously (IV) and will accumulate in the area of your body to be examined. This typically takes about 30 minutes.
Your exam may be performed immediately after the injection or you may be allowed to leave and return to the imaging center in 1 to 3 hours.
Upon your return the technologist will escort you to the examination room to begin the procedure which typically lasts from 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Our technologist will prepare and guide you by explaining the procedure and positioning you to ensure the highest quality images are obtained from your exam. You will need to remain as still as possible while the images are obtained.
Some nuclear medicine exams will require that you spend up to 3-4 hours in the department, you may be able to leave the department and return, or you may bring books or music players.
When your exam is complete you may leave and resume regular activities.
A radiologist will review your exam images and report the findings to your doctor within 24 hours. Your doctor will then discuss the findings and next steps with you.