Healthcare Services and Programs

What is nuclear medicine?
Nuclear medicine utilizes small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose or treat disease. The radioactive materials are carefully selected to provide the best possible absorption by the organ under study.

When is it used?
Your physician will order a study whenever the suspected problem can be best diagnosed by a nuclear study. Nuclear Medicine scans are commonly used to diagnose problems with bones, liver, lungs, heart and thyroid glands. However, your physician may order a nuclear study for other conditions.

How do I prepare for a Nuclear Medicine procedure?
In most cases, no advanced preparation is required prior to the procedure. If preparation is required, your physician will advise you or you will receive instructions at the time the procedure is scheduled.

What happens during the procedure?
You will be provided a radioactive substance one of five ways: Injection, IV, capsules, special tubing or inhalation. The radiologists will choose the method that is appropriate for your study.

A waiting period is normally required after the radioactive substance has been administered. The wait will vary depending upon the time required for the body to absorb the particular substance. Typical wait times range from 15 minutes to four hours. You will be free to read, talk, walk around and watch TV during the waiting period.

The actual scanning process takes between 30 to 60 minutes to complete. You will be positioned on a table next to a special camera. The camera does not emit any radiation. It receives the radiation from the substance you were administered. Usually, several scans will be taken to provide the physician with best possible views to diagnose the organ under study. You will lie still on the table for several minutes as each scan is taken.

What happens after the procedure?
There are no special steps to take after the procedure. The small amount of radioactive substance in your body has no side effects. You should feel fine and be able to resume all normal activities. The Nuclear Medicine physician will review your scans and send a written report to your physician to help your physician make the best possible diagnosis. Your physician will discuss the results with you and start appropriate treatment if necessary.

What are the benefits of a Nuclear Medicine procedure?
Nuclear Medicine procedures allow your physician to make an early and accurate diagnosis through a relatively painless non-surgical procedure.  

What are the risks of a Nuclear Medicine procedure?
Your physician will weigh the benefit-versus-risk when ordering a nuclear procedure on your behalf. Most physicians agree that the benefit of an early and accurate diagnosis far outweigh the risk of receiving a small amount of radioactive material administered during the test.

When contrasted with other medical tests that involve the use of radiation, Nuclear Medicine compares favorably and in fact, most scans involve the same amount or less radiation than that required for an X-ray.  

How do I schedule a Nuclear Medicine procedure at OhioHealth?
Your physician will call to schedule your procedure. You will be given a copy of the physician order to take to the test. Be sure to take the physician order with you the day of the test as it contains information used by the technician to set up your exam and by the billing department for proper submission to your insurance company. You should be aware that OhioHealth offers many convenient locations. Be sure to ask your physician to send you to the center near you.