Nuclear Medicine allows us to look at a specific part of the body by giving you a small amount of a dye in your blood, known as a radioactive tracer.  

Using a gamma camera we can build up a picture of specific areas of your body and their function which are difficult to see by any other method.

This procedure is done by a technologist under the direction of a nuclear medicine physician. There will be some large machines, which are very safe. Specialised staff will remain with you throughout your stay. You will be awake during the procedure.

What happens during the procedure?

Our staff will guide you through the experience:

  • You will be given a small amount of a radioactive tracer which is usually injected into a vein in your arm (although some tracers will need to be swallowed). This should not make you feel any different. You may be given this tracer while lying on a scanner bed or while sitting in a separate room.
  • Some scans will start as soon as you are given the tracer. Sometimes there will be a delay before scanning begins. This delay can be between a few minutes to a few hours depending on the test. Any long delays will be noted on your instruction sheet, where it is often possible for you to leave the department after being given the tracer and to return at a specified time for the scanning.
  • Usually a scan will last around 20-30 minutes, but can range between 10 minutes to over 1.5 hours depending on the test. Some tests may require a number of short pictures taken throughout the day. During the scan you must lie still, but can breathe normally. Occasionally your arms may need to rest above your head for the duration of the test.
  • A small number of tests do not require any scanning to be performed.

Are the gamma rays harmful?

The amount of radiation you will receive will be dependent upon the specific examination your doctor has requested for you. This should be discussed with your doctor as the benefits of this examination should outweigh the risks to you.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding your nuclear medicine scan, don't hesitate to contact us to discuss them with a Nuclear Medicine Physician or Nuclear Medicine staff member.

Is there a possibility you may be pregnant?

You must notify Nuclear Medicine staff if you are pregnant, or if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant.

Any radiation you receive may be harmful to your unborn child, especially during the first trimester (3 months) of your pregnancy.

Are you breastfeeding?

You must notify Nuclear Medicine staff before your appointment if you are breastfeeding.


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In a medical emergency, call 000. If you are feeling unwell, see your local GP or go to your local hospital Emergency department for help.