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.
- We use a gamma camera to 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.
- You are awake during the procedure, and our staff stay with you.
- Usually a scan lasts around 20-30 minutes, but can range between 10 minutes to over 1.5 hours depending on the test.
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.
You may see some large machines in the room, all of which are very safe.
You are awake during the procedure. A nurse or specialised staff stay with you throughout your procedure.
What happens during the procedure?
Our staff guide you through the procedure:
- You are given a small amount of a radioactive tracer which is usually injected into a vein in your arm (although some tracers 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 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 are 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 lasts around 45 minutes, but can range between 10 minutes and 3 hours depending on the test.
- Some tests may require some 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.
- Some tests do not require any scanning to be performed.
Are the gamma rays harmful?
The amount of radiation you receive is dependent on 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 our staff if you are pregnant, or if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant.
Are you breastfeeding?
You must notify our staff before your appointment if you are breastfeeding.
What happens after the procedure?
Your results are discussed with you by your local doctor at your next visit.