Nuclear medicine scan

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1 Nuclear medicine scan Exceptional healthcare, personally delivered

2 Welcome to the Radiology Department The radiology department may also be called the x-ray or imaging department. It is the facility in the hospital where radiological examinations of patients are carried out, using a range of x-ray equipment, such as a CT (computed tomography) scanner, an ultrasound machine and a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner. Radiologists are doctors specially trained to interpret the images and carry out more complex examinations. They are supported by radiographers who are highly trained to carry out x-rays and other imaging procedures. What is a Nuclear Medicine Scan? Nuclear medicine is the name given to the use of radioactive isotopes linked to certain pharmaceuticals (chemicals) to produce an image of different parts of the body. These isotopes emit gamma rays, which are similar to x-rays. The gamma rays are detected by a gamma camera and an image is produced on a television screen. Unlike ordinary x-rays nuclear medicine can be used to show how well certain organs or structures are working as well as what they look like. Are there any risks from the radiation? The amount of radiation you receive is small. We can assure you that all safeguards to minimise radiation are taken. The benefit to you of having the scan to help with a diagnosis will outweigh any risk from the radiation. Do I need to prepare for the scan? Each type of nuclear medicine examination will have a different preparation. Please read your appointment letter carefully as it will specify what the preparation for your particular scan will be. 2 Information about your Nuclear Medicine Scan

3 If I am taking tablets or other drugs, do I stop taking them? There is normally no need to change any regular treatment. If you do need to stop taking any medication you will be informed by either your Doctor or by the Radiology department. What is involved? n The isotope is usually injected into a vein in your arm but for some examinations it may be swallowed or breathed in the form of a gas. n The injection of the radioactive substance is similar to having a blood sample taken. You will not feel any ill effects, drowsiness or sickness and it will not affect your ability to drive a car. n For some examinations scanning begins immediately and for others there is a delay and some examinations have both immediate and delayed scans. n If there is a long period of delay between the injection and the scan you may well be able to leave the department during this interval. This can be confirmed with the Radiographer who will be looking after you. n During the scan you will have to keep still for periods of time, ranging from a few minutes, up to an hour. n You do not have to go into a tunnel and you can normally leave your clothes on. How long does the scan take? This varies between examinations. Some take several hours and others only about 15 minutes. Your appointment letter will give details of timing. Information about your Nuclear Medicine Scan 3

4 What about pregnancy? If you are or if you think you may be pregnant please contact us before your appointment date by ringing the number on your appointment letter. Becoming pregnant soon after a nuclear medicine scan is not a cause for concern. What about breast-feeding? Some of the radioactive substances are excreted in breast milk. Therefore if you are breast-feeding it is important to contact us as soon as you receive your appointment and we will give you simple guidance about what to do. For the majority of scans there will be no need to stop feeding your baby. What if you are receiving renal dialysis? Please ring us as soon as you receive your appointment if you are undergoing renal dialysis. It may be necessary to alter the days you have your treatment to fit in with the scan. What about caring for children? We ask that you avoid prolonged close contact with children or pregnant women for the rest of the day following your nuclear medicine scan. Close contact means not sitting with children on your knee or next to someone who may be pregnant. If you have sole care of small children it may be advisable to ask someone to help you on the day of your examination. If this is difficult please ring the department for advice. Your pets will not be affected. Do I need to do anything after the scan? For most scans you can eat normally unless specific information is provided with your appointment letter. It will help your body to clear the radioactivity if you drink plenty of fluids and empty your bladder as often as possible for the rest of the day following your scan. 4 Information about your Nuclear Medicine Scan

5 Information about your scan When you leave the department after your scan you will be given information about the type of radioactive substance you have received. You should keep this with you for 24 hrs following the scan in case you need to see a doctor or dentist for any reason in that time. You should show them the information before you receive any treatment. How will I get the results? The results will not be available at the time of your scan. The images will be examined in detail after your visit. A written report will then be sent out to the Doctor who sent you for the scan. You will get the results from this Doctor. Finally Please remember that the isotope preparation required for this examination is ordered especially for you. If you are not able to attend, please let the department know at least the day before your appointment to ensure that it does not go to waste. References Royal College of Radiologists Information for patients. RCR November Available at: [accessed December 2009] NHS Constitution. Information on your rights and responsibilities. Available at Information about your Nuclear Medicine Scan 5

6 How to contact us: See your appointment letter for the number to phone with any queries you may have If you or the individual you are caring for need support reading this leaflet please ask a member of staff for advice. North Bristol NHS Trust. This edition published May Review due May NBT002025

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