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Nuclear Medicine tests use special radioactive materials to obtain detailed images of your body. The radioactive "tracer" is given orally or through an IV and is absorbed into your body and accumulates in the tissues. Once the tracer is absorbed, a special nuclear medicine camera detects the radioactive material inside your body, and images of this activity enable the radiologist to study the function of the tissues and anatomy of your body.
A Nuclear Medicine scan can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour; however sometimes there can be a significant delay (upwards of 4 hours) so that the radioactive material can be absorbed into your body before the images are taken. Depending on the type of nuclear medicine test you are having, you may be sitting, standing, or lying down. The tracer remains in the body temporarily before it is eliminated as waste, usually in the urine or stool.
Some of the most common types of Nuclear Medicine tests are listed below.
Myocardial Perfusion Test
This test will take 3 hours. If you are taking Beta Blocker medication, you will need to discontinue use 24 hours prior to your appointment. No caffeine for 24-36 hours before exam. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your exam. More specific instructions will be provided by the nuclear medicine department and/or your physician.
Resting Perfusion Test
This test will take one hour. Do not eat anything 4 hours before your appointment. You may drink water and take any medications you are on. Do not exercise before your appointment.
No preparations are required. You will receive your injection, wait 2 hours, and then return for a one hour scan.
No eating or drinking after midnight. You will be given instructions on when to stop taking your thyroid medications prior to your exam.
This exam will take 90 minutes. Nothing to eat or drink after midnight and do not take any medications prior to your exam.
You will need to fast between 2 and 14 hours.
White Blood Cell Study
Your blood will be drawn at 7:30 AM, you will return to the hospital at 11:00 AM for re-injection of blood, you can leave for 2-3 hours, and then return to the hospital for a one hour scan.
The scan will take 30-60 minutes. Hydration improves the quality of the images, so it is helpful if you drink 2-3 glasses of water prior to arriving for your exam.
If you have any questions regarding what to expect or how to prepare for your exam, please call our Nuclear Medicine Department directly at (434) 654-7139.