Nuclear Medicine

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear Medicine describes diagnostic procedures that utilize traces of radioactive materials as “tracers” that help to identify functional abnormalities in various organs of the body.

How Should I Prepare?

In most cases, no patient preparation is necessary.

What Can I Expect?

A “tracer” is administered either intravenously or orally, with a waiting time ranging from a few minutes to four hours, owing to the test prescribed. The patient will experience no side effects from the tracer, and no radiation safety precautions are needed.

What Kinds of Testing are Available?

Common procedures in Nuclear Medicine include:

Bone Scan:

Used for the diagnosis of metastatic disease, fractures, or other bone diseases. A 2-4 hour wait between tracer administration and the commencement of the test is required; imaging takes from 30 to 45 minutes.

Additional x-rays may be needed for comparison.

Gastric Emptying Scan:

To determine emptying time and evaluate gastroparesis. You are asked not to eat or drink for six hours prior to the scan. On arrival, you will be asked to eat egg whites containing the tracer and toast; the scan is conducted continuously for one hour.

Hepatobiliary Scan:

Commonly used to rule out Biliary Atresia in neonates suffering from prolonged jaundice. No preparation is required in such cases and the test consists of sequential imaging for few minutes, every 1-2hrs. It may continue up to 24 hrs. It is also used to diagnose cholecystitis, biliary tract obstruction or biliary leakage in adults. In such cases, patients need to remain fasting overnight.

Liver-Spleen Scan:

For diagnosis of cirrhosis or other liver function diseases. Exam is started 15 minutes after tracer administration, and lasts about 30 minutes.

Lung Perfusion Scan:

For diagnosis of pulmonary thrombo-embolism. The tracer is injected intravenously followed immediately by imaging for 10-15 minutes. A chest x-ray or a plain CT scan may be taken for comparison.