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Nuclear Medicine

woman getting a scanNuclear 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 scheduled.

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.

Imaging at Foothills Hospital

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.

Questions About Your Bill?

For Billing and Payment information, click here.

Important Information

Boulder Community Health is following current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that call for patients and visitors to continue wearing masks at Foothills Hospital and all BCH patient-care facilities.

People age 12 and older are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more on our general vaccine information page.