Types of Nuclear Medicine

Bone or Joint Scan

The reason for this test is to find out if there are any abnormal areas within the bones or joints. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the vein, which is then taken up by the bony skeleton. Pictures are taken 2 to 3 hours after the injection. Sometimes it is necessary to take plain radiographs (x-rays) of the bones in order to further evaluate any abnormal areas. The radioactive material will leave the body through the urine.


Gallium Scan

The reason for this test is to detect infection or tumor. Pictures are taken with a special camera. Depending on your medical history, imaging will either be at 24, 48 or 96 hours after the injection of a radioactive material. The patient may need to take an enema to better evaluate the abdomen. The radioactive material will leave the body through the urine.


Gastric Emptying

This test is to evaluate the function of the stomach. Solid - the patient will eat a scrambled egg and begin imaging immediately for 2 hours. Liquid - the patient will drink a glass of water and imaging will begin immediately for 60 minutes.


​Gastroesophageal Reflux Study

The reason for this test is to find out if liquid material moves in a reverse direction from the stomach to the esophagus, also known as reflux. A small amount of radioactive material is mixed with a liquid that the patient drinks. A binder is placed on the abdomen to push down on the stomach. Pictures are then taken. At the end of this test the binder is removed. The radioactive material will leave the body through the urine.


​Hepatobiliary Scan

The reason for this test is to evaluate gall bladder function and to assess the bile ducts. The patient is injected with a radioactive material and then pictures are immediately taken with a special camera for a minimum of one hour and possibly up to three hours.


Liver or Spleen Scan

The reason for this test is to find out the size and function of the liver and spleen. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the vein. Pictures of the liver and spleen are taken. The radioactive material wil leave the body through the urine.


​Meckel's Scan

The reason for this study is to find out if the patient has a Meckel's diverticulum. This study is frequently performed on children. This is sometimes done when the patient has a history of bleeding into the gastrointestinal system. Pictures are taken right after the injection for a period of 45 minutes. The radioactive material will leave the body through the urine.


​MUGA Scan

This tests evaluates the function of the heart and is often done on patients who will be receiving chemotherapy. The patient has a small amount of blood drawn which is then mixed with the radioisotope. This mixture is then reinjected into the patient and imaging begins about 10 minutes later. The test takes about one hour.


Renal Scan

The reason for this test is to assess the blood flow as well as the level of function of the kidneys. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the vein. Pictures are taken right after the injection. A computer is used to calculate the amount of blood flow and function of each kidney. Pictures are taken for a period of 30 minutes. The radioactive material will leave the body through the urine.


​SPECT Brain Scan

This is a 2 part test. The first part of the test involves an injection. An IV will be placed in the patient's arm and the medicine will be administered through it. This takes approximately 1/2 hour. The patient may then leave but will return in about 1 1/2 hours for imaging. The imaging portion of the test takes about 45 minutes.


​SPECT Liver Scan (Red Blood Cell Scan of Liver)

This test is often done as a followup to a CT Scan, MRI or Ultrasound to rule out a benign liver tumor (hemangioma). This is a 2 part test. The first part will take 1/2 hour. The technologist will draw a small amount of blood from the patient and mix the isotope with it. The blood is then re-injected into the patient. The patient may then leave but must return approximately 1 1/2 hours later for imaging. The images will take 45 minutes.


Thyroid Scan and Uptake (Radionuclide Iodine Uptake)

This examination determines how well the thyroid gland is functioning by measuring the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. In addition, pictures of the thyroid gland are obtained. The test is performed over the course of two days. On the first day, you will be given a radioactive iodine pill and then be asked to return in six hours for the first uptake determination as well as pictures of the gland. On the second day, you will be asked to return for a 24 hour iodine uptake measurement. At this time, the radiologist will review your test and may decide to examine your thyroid gland. Additional pictures of the gland may be obtained by the radiologist after review of the study and the physical examination. The radioactive iodine will be cleared by your kidneys in the urine. Since the iodine may also be excreted in breast milk, it is advised that breast feeding be discontinued for at least 48 hours after the examination.