Benefits of Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear medicine procedures are used to both diagnose and treat a variety of diseases and conditions. Common diagnoses include:
- Stress fractures
- Infections and tumors in the bones
- Blood clots in the lungs
- Blocked arteries or damaged muscle in the heart
- Obstructions of the gallbladder or kidneys
- Digestive problems
- Thyroid dysfunction
State-of-the-art nuclear medicine tools, such as the PET scanner, are effective in diagnosing, staging, and treating many types of cancers.
How It Works
Nuclear medicine scanning involves administering small amounts of radioactive material called tracers. These tracers are injected, inhaled, or swallowed by the patient before or during the scanning procedure.
Patients lie on a table while the nuclear medicine camera moves over or around them for about 30 to 60 minutes. (Complex scans may take longer and be repeated over several days.) The camera records the pattern of the tracers as they travel through the body or to various organs. Images are shown digitally on computer monitors and then interpreted by radiologists who send reports to your referring health care provider.
The radioactive tracers do not cause any side effects or sensations and leave the body quickly. Most nuclear medicine procedures require minimal preparation. You may be told to restrict your eating or drinking or to discontinue certain medications for a short period of time. You will receive specific instructions when your exam is scheduled.
When nuclear medicine is being used to treat such diseases as hyperthyroidism, cancer of the thyroid, or for relief of bone pain caused by cancer tumors, patients receive larger amounts of radioactive material. In these cases, the radioactivity stays in the body for a longer period of time in order for the therapy to be successful.
All BCH technologists are registered and licensed through a national credentialing organization.
Nuclear medicine is provided at Foothills Hospital.
If your physician orders a nuclear medicine procedure, first call the BCH's Nuclear Medicine Department directly at 303-440-2176 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. weekdays to schedule an appointment.
Return to Top