Nuclear Medicine uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose injuries and diseases. Nuclear medicine tests are very sensitive and can detect some diseases at early stages. Unlike MRI and CT scans that give only structural information, nuclear medicine tests provide information about the functional status and capability of different organs and tissues.
Nuclear medicine is safe. Only tiny amounts of short-lived radioactive material are used, similar to common x-rays. Nuclear medicine works when a radioactive material called an isotope is administered to a patient by an injection. The isotope then travels to target organ and tissue where it gives off gamma rays that are detected by a special camera to form an image of the organ. The images and results are studied by the radiologist and a patient's primary physician.
Some tests require minimal or no preparation, whereas others require specific preparations such as fasting for 4-12 hours and no caffeine consumption for 24 hours. During scheduling of the test, the patient will be instructed for the specific preparation.
Nuclear Medicine tests include:
- Heart - Myocardial Perfusion Study
The myocardial perfusion study demonstrates the distribution of the blood flow and perfusion to the myocardium at stress and rest.
- Bone - Bone Scan
The bone scan is used for detection of bone metastases, diagnosis of osteomyelitis, evaluation of musculoskeletal trauma and evaluation of primary benign and malignant bone lesions.
- Gall Bladder - Hepatobiliary Study
The hepatobiliary study successively demonstrates hepatic perfusion, hepatocyte clearance, hepatic parenchymal transit and biliary excretion as the radiopharmaceutical moves from the injection site to the intestine.
- Stomach - Gastric Emptying Study
The gastric emptying study demonstrates the movement of an ingested bolus of solid and/or liquid from the stomach into the small intestine.
- Thyroid - Thyroid Uptake and Scan
The thyroid uptake measures the metabolic activity of the thyroid gland as reflected by its extraction of iodine from the blood.
- Lungs - Lung Ventilation/Perfusion Study
The vent/perfusion scan is used for the evaluation and detection of pulmonary embolism.
- Kidneys - Renal Scan
The renal scan demonstrates renal perfusion, clearance, blockage and leaks.