Nuclear Medicine

  • Looks at organ and tissue function
  • Administers a radioactive tracer
  • May require subsequent imaging

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Everything to know about Nuclear Medicine

How Nuclear Medicine scans work

Nuclear Medicine scans use a radioactive tracer called a radiopharmaceutical. This tracer is usually injected or swallowed, then images are taken using a gamma (SPECT/CT) camera. Different radiopharmaceuticals are used to assess different parts of the body.

Nuclear Medicine can be used on many parts of the body, including:

  • Bones and joints
  • Heart and lungs
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Endocrine system

What to expect

Nuclear Medicine is a non-invasive way to assess organ function.

When you arrive, a technologist will take a brief medical history. Please bring a list of your medications and any recent imaging you've had. The radioactive tracer will be administered, usually through a vein in the arm. You may be lying on a scanner bed for up to an hour during imaging. You may also need to return later for delayed imaging. If so, the technologist will give you a time to return.

The day of the Scan

1 - 2 days before the scan
Stop medications if required

Morning of scan
Fast if required

The scan
30 - 60 mins procedure

Up to 4hrs later
Delayed imaging (time provided on day)

All imaging complete
Time to go home

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What special diet is required for my Nuclear Medicine scan?

For most nuclear medicine scans you can eat and drink normally before the procedure. If you need to fast, you’ll be told at the time of booking.

Can I take my medication on the day of the test?

Most medications can be taken as normal with plain water. For some tests, such as cardiac or thyroid, you might need to stop some medication. You'll be told this when making the booking. Please bring a list of your medications to the appointment.

How is Nuclear Medicine different from X-rays and CT?

X-rays and CT provide structural information about an organ. Nuclear medicine is used to assess how the organ or bodily system is working. The imaging modalities are often complementary, each providing a piece of the puzzle to help diagnosis or assessment.

What should I wear for my scan?

Comfortable clothes with no metal. You may be asked to change into a gown and remove jewellery prior to the scan.

Is the radiation harmful?

Nuclear Medicine tests are considered to be a safe procedure. The radioactive tracer only remains in the body for a few hours. The radiation dose from the tracer varies for each test but is similar to the dose from a CT scan.

You may be asked to avoid close contact with pregnant women and small children for a few hours after the scan. It's important to tell us at the time of booking if you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or the primary/sole carer for small children so we can discuss special arrangements.

How will I feel after my scan?

There are no side effects to the test. You can safely drive, eat, and drink as normal after the scan.

Meet Dr Peter Zheng

Consultant Radiologist, Lumus Imaging, Brisbane

"We are constantly adopting the latest technology and ideas, expanding into regional, rural and metropolitan areas, and attracting professionals with genuine talent and enthusiasm at every level. "

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