Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine includes diagnostic imaging procedures that assess organ function and metabolism. A radioactive drug is introduced into the body by various methods, most commonly by an IV. These materials do not cause any side effects. The radioactive doses administered are in accordance with the Image Gently Campaign to keep pediatric radiation doses as low as possible and still provide a quality diagnostic image.

After the radioactive drug is administered, the exam may begin immediately, several hours later or sometimes days later. The patient is allowed to leave and return. Most exams require imaging with a specialized camera to see the radioactive drug in the organs to be assessed. The patient needs to hold certain parts of their body still or even their entire body for various amounts of time. Sedation may be required based on the type of imaging, the length of the exam and the age of the patient. If no sedation is required, the patient may watch TV or a DVD, listen to music or talk with staff and family members. Family is always encouraged to stay with the patient. Most exams require no special dietary instructions.

Bone Scan

A radioactive drug is injected into a vein or into a central line and images are typically done 3 hours later. Patients under the age of 6 may require sedation. The patient is allowed to leave between the injection and scan. After the 3 hour wait, the scan typically takes 1 hr 15 min.

Brain Spect

The patient will require an IV. A radioactive drug is injected into the IV and images of the brain will be done approximately 45 minutes later. If the scan is for seizures, the patient may require EEG monitoring prior to and during the injection. The scan takes approximately 40 minutes and may require sedation.

Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)

The patient will require two separate IV sites (central lines may be used). A blood sample is drawn from one IV site then a radioactive drug is injected into the other IV site. Two more blood samples are drawn at 2 and 4 hours following the injection. The injection and blood samples must be from different IV sites. No imaging is performed for this exam. 

Gastric Emptying

The patient can have no food or drink for 4 hours prior to arrival. If the patient eats normally by mouth, the Technologist will give a small meal to be eaten over 5 minutes. They may bring any food from home or get food from the cafeteria once they have arrived. If the patient normally eats by a gastric tube, a small amount of the normal feeds will be given through the G-tube by the Technologist. Imaging begins immediately and acquires a "movie of the stomach" for 65 minutes. Intermittent imaging may be required for an additional hour. 

Lung Perfusion

A radioactive drug is injected into a vein or into a central line. Images are taken of the lungs for approximately 5 minutes if the patients is a cardiac patient and for 30 minutes for all others. No sedation is required.

Voiding Cystogram

The patient must have a urinary catheter placed into the bladder. The bladder will be emptied through the catheter. Once the patient is positioned in front of the camera, the bladder is filled through the catheter until the bladder is full. The patient then empties their bladder. Imaging is performed for the entire procedure of filling and emptying. There are no diet restrictions unless sedation is ordered.

DMSA Renal Scan

A radioactive drug is injected into a vein or into a central line and images of the kidneys are done 1 hour later. The patient may leave and return. The images upon return take approximately 30 minutes. There are no diet restrictions unless sedation is ordered.

Mag3 Renal Scan

The patient will require an IV and a urinary catheter. Once the IV is placed, a small amount of normal saline will be infused into the IV to hydrate the patient over 30 minutes. The patient is then placed over the camera and a radioactive drug injected into the IV. The imaging begins immediately and continues for 45 minutes to an hour. The urinary catheter is used to keep the bladder empty throughout the exam.

This exam is often done in conjunction with an Xray VCUG in which the catheter would remain in the bladder and the VCUG would be performed following the Mag3 scan. There are no diet restrictions unless sedation is ordered.

Hida Scan

The patient must have no food or drink for 4-12 hours prior to the scan. An IV will be placed and a radioactive drug will be injected through the IV. Imaging is begun immediately and will continue for up to 1 hour. If the scan is to assess the gallbladder function, an additional drug called CCK or Sincalide will be infused over an additional 60 minutes while imaging.

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