Nuclear Medicine
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Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine is a specialty exam using radioactive isotopes to study the function of certain parts of your body. Nuclear medicine images can help the physician diagnose diseases. We can also detect tumors, infection and other disorders by evaluating organ function. Nuclear medicine can be used to:

  • Analyze kidney function
  • Image blood flow and heart function
  • Scan lungs for respiratory and blood-flow problems
  • Identify blockage of the gallbladder
  • Evaluate bones for fracture, infection, arthritis or tumor
  • Determine the presence or spread of cancer
  • Identify bleeding into the bowel
  • Locate infection
  • Measure thyroid function

Nuclear medicine also offers therapeutic procedures. They include radioactive iodine (I-131) therapy that use small amounts of radioactive material to treat cancer and other medical conditions.

How Should You Prepare for a Nuclear Medicine Procedure?

Your preparation depends on the type of nuclear imaging test you are having. Preparations for your exam will be provided to you when you schedule your appointment and prior to your exam. Download our exam preparation guidelines here. (link to exam preps)


Thyroid Uptake and Scan, Whole-Body Scan

No multivitamins for two weeks prior to exam. No thyroid medications for two to four weeks depending on type of scan. No seafood for 48 hours prior to your exam. No iodine-based contrast for four weeks prior to your exam. Please do not eat for two hours before your exam. You must not be pregnant.

Hepatobiliary Scan

Nothing to eat or drink for six hours prior to this scan.

Gastric Empty

Nothing to eat or drink four hours prior to this scan.

Nuclear Stress Test

Nothing to eat for four hours. Call regarding cardiac medications. Wear two-piece outfit, short-sleeve shirt and bring a small snack to eat during your examination break. This is a three- to four-hour exam. (Bring a book!)


What to Expect During a Nuclear Medicine Procedure

During a nuclear medicine procedure, a radioactive material called a radiopharmaceutical or radiotracer is injected into the bloodstream, or swallowed. The radioactive material accumulates in the organ or area of your body being examined, where it gives off a small amount of energy in the form of gamma rays. Special cameras detect this energy and create computer images of the structure and function of organs and tissues in your body. Exam times will vary based on the specific exam.


Your Exam Guide

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