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Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine is a medical specialty that is used to diagnose and treat diseases in a safe and painless way. Nuclear Medicine refers to medicine (a pharmaceutical) that is attached to a small amount of radioactive material (a radioisotope). This combination is called a radiopharmaceutical. There are many different radiopharmaceuticals available to study different parts of the body.

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Before Your Exam:

  • You may have a preparation for your exam – you will be informed of this when you make your appointment.
  • Dress comfortably – patients do not need to change for most Nuclear Medicine procedures.

During Your Exam:

  • Radiopharmaceuticals are introduced into the patient’s body by injection, swallowing, or inhalation. The amount given is very small. The radioactive part of the radiopharmaceutical emits radiation known as gamma rays which are detected using a special camera called a gamma camera. During the imaging procedure, the patient is asked to lie down on a bed while the gamma camera is placed a few inches from the patient’s body. Pictures are then taken over varying time periods.
  • Nuclear Medicine procedures can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours. Some Nuclear Medicine exams have multiple parts, or may take place over multiple days.

After The Exam:

  • Technologists will be able to answer most questions that are not related to the results of the exam. A board-certified radiologist will interpret the images and provide a written report to your physician.
  • The technologist performing your exam will give you further directions before you leave.
  • You will be able to resume normal activities after your Nuclear Medicine exam.
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