Nuclear Medicine

What is the procedure?

A small amount of a substance with a radioactive “label” is injected into a vein in your arm. This material will localize in a specific organ of your body depending on the type of scan you are having. Pictures will be taken with a “gamma camera” immediately after injection, sequentially over time, or after a delay of a few hours, depending on the organ being studied. There is no feeling of heat or any other sensation from the injection and there are no known allergic reactions to the injection.

Nuclear medicine is safe and effective, requiring only an injection. It is a valuable tool in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Before the exam:

Pregnant or nursing mothers should speak to their physician and the technologist before having a nuclear medicine exam, so as to limit the radiation exposure to the developing fetus or young child.

The day of the exam:

Depending on the specific test, you may be instructed not to eat or drink anything for a certain time period before your arrival.

How long should it take?

This depends on the specific nuclear medicine test being administered. A bone scan, the most common nuclear medicine test, is a three hour process in total. The injection is given, and you must then wait two hours for the body to take up the isotope. You may wait in the office or leave the premises, and after the two hours, you return for a 45-minute scan. With some other tests, such as the 3-day Gallium scan, the patient returns three days in a row, for an hour at the most each day.

During the exam:

You will lie on a flat table without moving and a camera will move around your body taking pictures.

After the exam:

You may continue all normal activities, diet and medications. Your doctor will have the results in approximately 24 hours.

Exam offered at the following locations:

Diagnostic Imaging at CFAM
Long Island Jewish Medical Center
North Shore University Hospital
NSLIJ Imaging at Great Neck
Forest Hills Hospital
Franklin Hospital
Plainview Hospital
Southside Hospital
Staten Island University Hospital


Last Update

December 21, 2012
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