What is Nuclear Medicine?
What should I expect?
When you arrive at appointment time, a nuclear medicine pharmaceutical will be administered, either through an IV or pill form. Often it can take a while for the pharmaceutical to travel through your system to the area being examined. You must wait a predetermined duration of time for the radiological pharmaceutical to take effect. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, so you may have time to go about your day while you wait. Upon readmission, you will be taken to begin scanning. This can last from fifteen minutes to a few hours. You may also have to return for a follow-up scan the next day.
For nuclear stress tests, you will be monitored by an EKG, and will walk on a treadmill to put stress on the heart. If you are not able to walk on a treadmill, a chemical injection will be administered to increase your heart rate. At some period during the test, a second nuclear pharmaceutical will be injected. After the stress test is complete, you will be asked to leave and have something to eat. Upon returning, the last images of the heart will be taken for approximately twenty minutes.
What can I do to prepare?
For any of the tests, you may be asked to change clothes or remove your electronics and other objects from your pockets, depending on the body part to be examined. Zippers, snaps, cell phones, coins, etc., will “over-shadow” the area of interest if they are present, so removing those items is in your best interest for an accurate exam. For some exams, you may be asked that you not to eat or drink the night before.