Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine and Nuclear Cardiology are available at our Voorhees, Turnersville, and Cross Keys locations.

Nuclear Medicine Examination

As a diagnostic tool, nuclear medicine is unique because it evaluates physiological function rather than anatomical structure.

Nuclear medicine “scans” enable our physicians to determine how much heart tissue is still alive after a heart attack, or whether a kidney is operating as an effective filter, even when there are no detectable changes in organ appearance.

A Nuclear Medicine examination involves injection of a radioisotope (radiopharmaceutical) into the bloodstream. Spect Gamma cameras are used to detect signals given off by the radioisotope. Specially trained technologists use sophisticated computers to analyze this data to provide valuable information about the human body.

Is a Nuclear Medicine test painful?

No. Some studies require you to swallow a small amount of liquid or take a pill. Others require a small pinprick for injection of a radiopharmaceutical. The procedure is otherwise painless.

Testing methods

By using small safe amounts of radioactive tracers, Nuclear Medicine provides information about the structure and function of various organs such as the heart, thyroid, kidneys, liver and bones. One noteworthy example of this technique is our ability to view the function and structure of the heart without performing surgery.

What about the radioactivity used in a Nuclear Medicine Test?

A Nuclear Medicine examination carries no greater risk than a standard x-ray procedure. A Nuclear Medicine test requires only very small doses of radiation, often less than a conventional x-ray procedure.

What is a Bone Scan?

Bone scans are performed in two parts. During the first part, you will be injected with a small amount of a radioactive tracer in a vein in your arm. The tracer is carried in the blood stream to the skeletal system where it is distributed throughout the bones. Depending on the study ordered, the Nuclear Medicine Technologist might take images as the tracer is moving through your blood stream before it reaches your bones (3-phase bone scan).

After the tracer injection, you may leave the Department for 3 or 4 hours. The period allows the tracer to be absorbed by the bones. During this time, you will be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids and to empty your bladder frequently. This helps produce a clearer image.

When you return to the Nuclear Medicine Department images will be taken of your entire body or close-ups of specific areas. You should plan on being in the Department approximately one hour.

What preparation do I need for my Bone Scan?

There is no prep required for a bone scan.

What is a Thyroid Uptake and Scan?

Thyroid uptake and scans are performed in three parts. On the morning of the study you must swallow a capsule of a small amount of radioactive iodine. This capsule is specifically ordered for you on the morning of your exam. It must be taken in the department and cannot be picked up before the exam. After swallowing the capsule, you may leave the Department and return six hours later.

When you return a count or uptake of your neck will be taken to determine the amount of Iodine concentrated in your Thyroid gland, thus determining the function of your Thyroid gland. This appointment should take approximately 10 minutes. You will be asked to return to the Department 24 hours after taking the capsule for a second count or uptake and imaging of the Thyroid gland. You will be injected with a small amount of a radiotracer and four close-up images of your Thyroid gland are taken. These images show the anatomy of your Thyroid gland. You should plan to be in the department approximately one hour.

Treatment of Hyperactive Thyroid.

If it is determined that your thyroid gland is hyperactive, your physician may recommend that you follow up with a therapeutic dose of Radioactive Iodine-131. The technologist will provide you with a pamphlet of guidelines and explanation for this treatment if it is recommended.

What preparation do I need for a Thyroid Uptake and Scan?

Many foods and medications affect the trapping mechanism of the thyroid. Because of the very small dosage of Radioactive Iodine tracer being administered for this study, extreme care must be taken to follow the prep. Even patients who are allergic to iodine can have this test without concern. If you are taking thyroid medications such as Synthroid, Levoxyl, Tapazole, or Propylthiuracil, please make sure to tell the technologist scheduling the study.

Avoid foods and medication that contain iodine. Things to avoid include seafood for three days prior to the study. Vitamins, antihistamines or cold medications containing iodine for one week prior to the study. If you have had an x-ray procedure where an iodine contrast agent has been injected including Cat scan, IVP or Urogram you should postpone the examination for four weeks. The contrast used for MRI does not contain Iodine and does not interfere with this study.

What is a Renal Scan?

A renal scan is performed to assess the blood flow and function of the kidneys. The camera will be placed below the imaging table. You will be injected with a small amount of radioactive tracer. Images will be started immediately upon injection. The imaging will be continuous for 30 or 40 minutes and it is important that you remain as still as possible.

If your physician requests that you have a Lasix Renal Scan, lasix (a diuretic) will be injected during the course of the imaging and requires no additional time.

Captopril Renal Scan
You will have a baseline renal scan then you will be given 50mg of Captopril (Blood pressure medication). Your blood pressure will be taken over the course of one hour. After one hour of the Captopril, you will have a second Renal Scan.

What preparation do I need for a Renal Scan?

Drink 16 oz. of water one hour prior to your appointment.

Captopril Renal Scan – Blood pressure medications (ACE inhibitors) must be stopped 72 hours prior to the scan.

What is a Hepatobiliary Scan (HIDA or DISIDA Scan)?

Hepatobiliary scans demonstrate gallbladder function. You will be injected with a small amount of radioactive tracer. While lying flat on the table, the camera will be positioned over your chest and abdomen. Periodic images will be taken. It is important that you lie as still as possible. Depending on your gallbladder function, this study can take anywhere between one and four hours.

Your Physician may order a Gallbladder CCK or EF (Ejection Fraction) study. CCK is an enzyme given to stimulate your gallbladder to empty. You might experience minimal cramping or nausea. You will be injected with a small amount of a radioactive tracer. After one hour two images of your gallbladder will be taken to determine when to give the CCK. Once the CCK is given, images will be taken continuously for one hour to see how your gallbladder contracts.

What preparation do I need for a Hepatobiliary Scan?

Nothing by mouth for 4 hours prior to the study.

No pain medications (Narcotics) 12 hours prior to the study.

What is a Gastric Emptying Study(Solid Phase)?

Gastric Emptying Study is to evaluate the stomach emptying.

You will be given egg beaters tagged with a small amount of a radioactive tracer, toast with jam and 8 ounces of water to consume. Image of your stomach will be taken every hour up to 4 hours.

What preparation do I need for Gastric Emptying Study?

Nothing by mouth 6 hours prior to the study.

No stomach medications 2 days prior to the study.


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