What is nuclear medicine?
Nuclear medicine imaging uses small amounts of radioactive material called radiotracers that are injected into the bloodstream, inhaled or swallowed. The radiotracer travels through the area being examined and gives off energy in the form of gamma rays which are detected by a special camera and a computer to create images of the inside of your body. Nuclear medicine imaging offers the potential to identify disease in its earliest stages.
How should I prepare for my nuclear medicine exam?
To prepare for your test, please do the following:
Hepatobiliary (HIDA) with Cholecystokinin (CCK):
- Take medications with water unless otherwise instructed. However, you may NOT take narcotic medications including codeine, morphine, hydrocodone or tramadol.
- Do not eat or drink anything four hours prior to the scan (water is ok but no chewing gum, lozenges, coffee, food or candy.)
- Please wear a loose fitting shirt. An IV will need to be established in your arm.
- Bring a list of home medications, over the counter (herbal/vitamin) supplements with you; please include the dose, frequency and route (swallow, drop, injection).
- No radiographic barium studies within a 72-hour period.
- You may need a driver to pick you up if you need a morphine study.
Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT)
- Inform your physician or technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.
- Wear comfortable clothing to your exam
- You will receive specific instructions based on the type of PET scan you are undergoing (A radiology technologist will call you prior to your exam with preparation information.)
- Do not eat anything for four hours prior to a whole body PET/CT scan since eating may alter the distribution of the PET tracer in your body and can lead to a suboptimal scan. You may take necessary medications with water.
- If you are diabetic, you may receive special instructions.
What should I expect during my nuclear medicine exam?
Except for intravenous injections, most nuclear medicine procedures are painless and are rarely associated with significant discomfort or side effects.
When receiving the radiotracer intravenously, you will feel a slight pin prick when the needle is inserted into your vein for the intravenous line. When the radioactive material is injected into your arm, you may feel a cold sensation moving up your arm, but there are generally no other side effects.
It is important that you lie very still while the images are being recorded. Though nuclear imaging itself causes no pain, there may be some discomfort from having to remain still or to stay in one particular position during imaging. The radiotracer will decay naturally and be gone from your body in a few days.