Nuclear Medicine imaging involves giving you a small dose of radiation, often by way of an injection; however some examinations require a different approach. This radiation is ‘mixed’ with a pharmaceutical which allows us to target certain parts or organs within the body, depending on what it is the doctor would like to diagnose.
You will sometimes be given your injection earlier in the day, and then asked to come back for your scan later on. This gives the injection time to get to where it needs to be. In other cases the scan will be immediately after the injection. Your letter will give you the details.
The scan involves using a Gamma camera to pick up the small amount of radiation within your body, eventually forming a picture. Depending on what you are having done, these scans can last anywhere from 5 to 90 minutes. Some examinations also involve a quick CT scan at the end, which is done in the same room immediately after.
You will need to remain as still as possible throughout the scan.
The Nuclear Medicine department can be found along the link corridor on level C. You will be given an appointment date and time for your scan. Simply report to the reception desk at your given time to let them know that you have arrived, they will be expecting you.
The department consists of 3 gamma cameras and 2 rooms used for injecting patients. Each camera varies slightly, but the main set up of the room is the same. There will be no noise during the scan.
Below are details of a few of the more common examinations the department performs.
You will be given an injection earlier in the day, and then asked to come back in a few hours for your scan. In the case of some bone scans, images will be taken as the injection is given, for around 10 minutes. In this time we advise you to drink plenty of fluid and eat as normal. The fluid helps to flush the injection out of your system and also allows for a better picture.
The gamma cameras will come close to your body and will scan your skeleton from your head to your toes; the bed will slowly move you through them. Sometimes extra pictures are taken at the end.
This scan will look at the blood flow to your heart, using a mixture of the gamma cameras and a CT scan. An injection is given and the pictures taken a while later.
For the stress test you will also be given an injection that makes your heart work a bit harder, something similar to a jog around the block.
The gamma cameras will slowly move around your body in a circular motion, then a CT exam will be performed.
Make sure to follow any advice given before your appointment date as a lot of the time, caffeine and thus tea, coffee, and fizzy drinks may be banned on the morning of your scan!
This exam can look at the blood flow to your lungs or how your lung tissue functions. You will be given an injection while you take slow and deep breaths, and will be scanned straight after this.
Sometimes you need a second test which involves breathing in air through a tube, which contains the radioactive substance. This isn’t always the case, but will be explained to you on the day if need be.