Nuclear medicine is a safe and painless procedure. It records information about the function and structure of the major organs in the human body, unlike general radiology which creates images of dense bone structures. Common nuclear medicine applications include diagnosis and treatment of hyperthyroidism (a condition where the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much hormone), cardiac stress tests to analyze heart function, bone scans for orthopedic injuries, lung scans for blood clots, and liver and gall bladder procedures to diagnose malfunctions or blockages.
In nuclear medicine, a small amount of radioactive tracer is introduced into the patient to obtain images which show the function of internal organs. The dosage of the radioactive drug is carefully prescribed to allow for minimal radiation exposure while the patient is positioned under a "gamma camera". This camera detects and scans the distribution of the tracer within the patient's body. The patient does not feel anything with these drugs and by the following day, most of the radioactive tracer is eliminated from the body by normal excretion.
Nuclear medicine scans are used to:
- Analyze how kidneys are functioning and visualize blood flow
- Scan lungs for respiratory and blood flow problems
- Identify inflammation of the gallbladder and locate an infection
- Evaluate bones for fractures, infection, tumours or arthritis
- Determine cancer presence and/or spreading
- Evaluate bleeding of the bowel
- Gauge thyroid function to detect over/underactive thyroids
- Explore abnormalities in the brain and blood flow
- Localize lymph nodes before surgery for patients with melanoma or breast cancer
For further information about benefits and risks associated with Nuclear Medicine, speak with your physician or radiologist prior to treatment. Southlake Regional Health Centre’s Nuclear Medicine Department is licensed to use and possess nuclear substances under the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission of the Federal Government of Canada
To obtain preparation instructions for your upcoming test/procedure, click on a link below. You will be taken to www.radiologyinfo.org, a reliable, certified third-party radiology website that is updated frequently to provide you with current information. Southlake supports the information provided on the following pages and will advise you of specific preparation instructions should they differ from the information contained on the pages below.
Nuclear Medicine, Cardiac
Nuclear Medicine, General
Nuclear Medicine, Pediatric
Thyroid Scan & Uptake