Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive material -- called radiopharmaceuticals -- to diagnose or treat a variety of diseases, including heart, cancers and other abnormalities. These procedures are noninvasive and usually painless.
Depending upon the type of exam you are undergoing, the radiopharmaceutical is either injected into a vein or swallowed and accumulates in the organ or area of your body being examined. The radiopharmaceutical produces energy (gamma rays) identified by a gamma camera. These procedures work with a computer to measure the amount of radiopharmaceutical absorbed by your body and to produce special pictures offering details on both the structure and function of organs and tissues.
How Nuclear Medicine Scans Are Used
Physicians use radionuclide imaging procedures to visualize the structure and function of an organ, tissue, bone or system of the body.
Nuclear medicine imaging scans:
- Analyze kidney function
- Visualize heart blood flow and function
- Scan lungs for respiratory and blood flow problems
- Identify inflammation in the gallbladder
- Evaluate bones for fractures, infection, arthritis and tumors
- Determine the presence or spread of cancer in parts of the body
- Identify bleeding into the bowel
- Locate infections
- Measure thyroid function
- Investigate abnormalities in the brain
- Localize the lymph nodes before surgery
About Your Procedure
If you have a nuclear medicine procedure, be sure to drink extra fluids and use the bathroom frequently to aid in passing the radiopharmaceutical from your body. If your IV site is sore, reddened or swollen, apply a warm, wet washcloth to the area for 15-20 minutes four times a day and elevate your arm on a pillow. Call your physician if any symptoms persist for more than 48 hours.
If you had a stress test and feel chest pain or pressure; or if you are short of breath, lightheaded or dizzy after your test is completed, go to the Alton Memorial Emergency Department or call 911.
To schedule an appointment with the Alton Memorial Hospital Imaging Center, please call 618.463.7647 or email us.