Nuclear Medicine Exam

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What is Nuclear Medicine Exam

Nuclear medicine exam is a safe and painless imaging test. It helps your health care provider detect and diagnose disease in the body. It also provides information about the way your organs work and how they are structured.

For a nuclear medicine exam, you will be given a radioactive tracer. This substance is absorbed by your body’s organs. A large scanning machine detects the tracer and creates pictures of the areas that your health care provider wants to look at.

There are several kinds of nuclear medicine exams. They include:

  • CT scan.
  • MRI.
  • PET scan.

Tell a health care provider about:

  • Any allergies you have.
  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Any problems you or family members have had with anesthetic medicines.
  • Any blood disorders you have.
  • Any surgeries you have had.
  • Any medical conditions you have.
  • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant.
  • Whether you are nursing.

What happens before the procedure?

  • Ask your health care provider about changing or stopping your regular medicines.
  • Follow instructions from your health care provider about eating or drinking restrictions.
  • Do not wear jewelry.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a hospital gown for the procedure.
  • Bring previous imaging studies, such as X-rays, with you to the exam if they are available.

What happens during the procedure?

  • An IV tube may be inserted into one of your veins.
  • You will be asked to lie on a table or sit in a chair.
  • You will be given the radioactive tracer. You may get:
    • A pill or liquid to swallow.
    • An injection.
    • Medicine through your IV tube.
    • A gas to inhale.
  • A large scanning machine will be used to create images of your body. After the pictures are taken, you may have to wait so your health care provider can make sure that enough good images were taken.

The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • You may go right home after the procedure and return to your usual activities, unless told otherwise by your health care provider.
  • Drink enough water to keep urine clear or pale yellow. This helps to flush the radioactive tracer out of your body.
  • It is your responsibility to get your test results. Ask your health care provider or the department performing the test when your results will be ready.
  • Seek immediate medical care if you have shortness of breath.

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