Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive materials called radiotracers
to diagnose a wide array of diseases and conditions. It is also used as
a therapy for hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer, adrenal tumors, certain
forms of lymphoma and blood disorders, and painful bone tumors.
Nuclear medicine is unique in that it measures radiation being emitted
from inside the body instead of radiation generated by external sources
like X-rays. Nuclear medicine exams provide detailed information doctors
don’t get from other types of imaging.
Indeed, for many conditions, nuclear scans provide the most useful information
to detect disease at its earliest stage, make a diagnosis, and determine
any appropriate treatment.
When is nuclear medicine recommended?
Physicians use nuclear medicine to help identify disease at its earliest
stages. It is also a valuable tool to assess the progression of a disease
and to monitor the effectiveness of selected treatment plans. Common uses include:
- Heart disease
- Many types of cancer
- Gastrointestinal conditions
- Lung conditions
- Brain (neurological) disorders
- Bone fractures, infections and tumors
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Gallbladder abnormalities
What to expect during a nuclear medicine procedure
Talk to your radiologist about any recent illnesses, allergies or medications.
Let your doctor know if you may be pregnant or are breastfeeding. You
may be asked to wear a gown or your own clothing.
Before or during the noninvasive scanning procedure, patients are given
“radiopharmaceuticals” that are injected, inhaled or swallowed.
Patients lie on a table while the nuclear medicine camera moves around
them, generally for 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.
Digital images are viewed and interpreted by a radiologist who sends a
report to your physician.
Benefits and risks
Radiotracers do not cause any side effects or sensations and leave the
body quickly. You will receive specific instructions when your exam is
Schedule a nuclear medicine appointment
Nuclear medicine services are provided at Foothills Hospital. If your doctor
has ordered this procedure, call the Nuclear Medicine department directly
at (303) 415-7546.
Paying for Services
BCH accepts most major insurance plans. Explore
Self-Pay pricing options if you are uninsured or wish to pay directly for any service.
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