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Through the use of radioactive materials, nuclear imaging helps physicians diagnose a variety of diseases and disorders. During a Nuclear Medicine procedure or examination (also known as scan), patients are given a low-level radioactive compound by injection, swallowing or inhalation that accumulates in a specific organ, bone or tissue within the body. As a result, the affected organ continuously emits radiation that is detected by a highly sensitive and special camera system (PET, SPECT or gamma camera), in order to create an image of the body for study. Nuclear imaging is used to evaluate the function of many organs, including the heart, thyroid, bones, brain, liver, lung, kidneys, gallbladder and spleen. Side effects, such as allergic reactions, are not a problem since the majority of radiopharmaceuticals occur naturally in the body. Nuclear medicine also provides therapy treatment to certain types of tumors or thyroid conditions by administering high level of radioactive compound to the patients.
Nuclear Medicine differs from an x-ray, CT, ultrasound or other diagnostic test as it determines the presence of disease based on biological changes rather than anatomical changes of the body organ, bone or tissue.
At Howard County General Hospital, Nuclear Medicine services are provided to inpatients, outpatients and emergency room patients of all ages to include infants, children, adolescents and adults. The department is equipped with latest state-of-the-art camera systems and staffed with a nuclear medicine specialist physician and experienced technologists.
How to Prepare
Hepatobiliary Scan - Nothing by mouth for 2 hours and no morphine analogue drugs 3 hours prior to the test. (No prep required if gallbladder is removed.)
Nuclear Cardiology or Thallium Stress Scan - You may take medication as directed by your physician. Please consult your cardiologist concerning heart or blood pressure medicine. Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothing. The length of the exam is up to four hours.
- Treadmill stress: Nothing by mouth (water permitted) for minimum four (4) hours prior to the test.
- Adenosine stress test: In addition to preparation for treadmill stress test, NO caffeinated or decaffeinated soda or coffee or chocolate for minimum of 12 hrs prior to the test.
Thyroid Uptake and Scan: No food 4 hrs prior to the test. No thyroid medications 3 weeks prior, and no CT or IVP contrast 4 weeks prior to the test.
Lung Scan: Chest x-ray less than 6 hrs prior to lung scan.
Bone scan: No preparation.This exam is performed in two stages. First requires radionuclide injection and initial images. There will be an approximately three-hour interval during which you may leave the office and drink 3-5 cups of water. When you return, the delayed bone scan will take approximately one hour.
PY test for Helicobacter Pylori: No food for 6 hrs, no antibiotics or antacids for 4 weeks, no Prilosec, Prevacid, Noxium, Aciphex, Protonix or carafate (sucralfate) for 4 weeks prior to the test.
Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping and Imaging: No food or drink after midnight. Pre-surgical prep, as per instructions from your surgeon's office. This procedure is scheduled by your surgeon's office.