Nuclear Medicine

Below is a list of some frequently asked questions, but feel free to contact us if you need additional information. We are always pleased to assist you.

What is a Nuclear Medicine Examination?

A Nuclear Medicine Examination relies on specific radioactive isotopes or radiotracers designed to detect specific suspected pathology. Radioactive isotopes emit low dose radiation, which can be detected and imaged by a special camera. The isotope is chosen to optimally detect what is clinically suspected.

Why has my doctor order a Nuclear Medicine Examination?

Your doctor ordered the Nuclear Medicine Examination because you need one of the following:

  • Bone scan
  • Lung scan
  • Gallium scan
  • Indium 111 WBC Scan

Who performs and interprets a Nuclear Medicine Examination?

A technologist with special training and expertise in Nuclear Medicine Examinations will perform your examination. The technologist functions under the direct supervision of a radiologist. The radiologist will select the radioisotope tracer, the dosage, timing and positioning for the scan, as indicated by your symptoms.

What is special about having your nuclear medicine examination at MMC?

A board certified radiologist will interpret your Nuclear Medicine study at Mercy Medical Center. Radiologists are trained in the varying sensitivities and specifics of each radiotracer, and in the potential for hazards related to the isotope that must be avoided. Radiologists are also trained for distinguishing potential artifacts that may be mistaken for pathology.

What should I do to prepare for a Nuclear Medicine Examination?

The preparation for each Nuclear Medicine Examination differs and is described under the specified examination. For most nuclear medicine studies, there is no special preparation required.

What are the risks?

The risks are extremely minimal and described under the individual specific examinations.

What are the alternatives?

The alternative examination is described under each of the specific Nuclear Medicine Examinations described.

What can I expect after the Nuclear Medicine Examination?

Rarely, localized pain or a bruise may occur at the site of injection. There are no major after-effects of a Nuclear Medicine Examination.

What happens to the results?

A written report of the results is sent to your referring physician and any other physician you request. Copies of the report can be obtained through your referring physician's office. The radiographs are the property of the institution, as are biopsy slides or blood samples. Copies of the radiographs can be obtained by contacting the file room. There is a charge for obtaining film copies and mailing them to your physician.

Will other tests be ordered?

Most likely, yes, since nuclear medicine tests are, in general, very sensitive but not specific. The specific follow up examination is dependent on the type of nuclear scan initially performed and the suspected clinical condition.