Nuclear Medicine uses small amounts of radioactive materials as tracers to investigate the bones or organs of the body. The radiation is detected by a special type of camera called a Gamma Camera linked to a computer. It provides visual information about the area of the body being imaged by looking at the pattern of tracer-uptake.
Before you come to the hospital just relax, eat and drink normally and continue to take any prescribed medicine. If there is any specific preparation for your scan, it will be included on your appointment letter.
The person who carries out the examination is a qualified Radiographer whose specialty is Nuclear Medicine. They will explain the procedure, and you will have an opportunity to ask them questions.
The radioactive tracer is given by intravenous injection, usually into the arm, or the back of the hand. The injection takes only a few minutes. Depending on the type of scan, your scan may be taken immediately, or after a specified period of time.
During most nuclear medicine scans, you will lie down on a couch. The area being scanned is then placed underneath the camera heads. They will come close but they will not touch you, and you do not feel anything from them. The camera heads either move around you in a circular motion or scan your body with one camera head placed above and the other beneath you. You are not completely closed in during the scan. Staff will be with you in the room at all times.
You will be mildly radioactive for 24 hours after the injection and should avoid close contact with children and pregnant women for the first 6 hours after the injection. You should also avoid any other procedures outside of the Radiology Department on the day of your scan. Please contact the department if you need any advice.
After your scan, a Consultant Radiologist, a doctor who specialises in Nuclear Medicine, will study the images, and send a report directly to the doctor who referred you for the scan.