What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine involves the use of radioactive
materials or isotopes to obtain specific diagnostic
information. These isotopes transmit a pattern of
x-rays representing the organ size, shape and function.
The rays are detected by a special camera that, when
coupled with a computer, produces an image on a screen.
The isotope is administered intravenously (like a blood
test), orally or by inhalation.
Nuclear medicine is also used for treatment of certain
conditions such as overactive thyroid glands.
Preparing for the Exam
Each nuclear medicine exam has required preparations.
The most frequently performed exams with their preps
are listed. If instructions are not listed, your
physician will inform you about your exam or you may
call Murray Hospital's Radiology Department at
Bone Scan Total Body
An IV injection will be given in your arm during your
first visit. You may leave after the injection. The
scan will be performed three or four hours later. The
exam takes 45 to 60 minutes and is most frequently
performed while you are lying on your back.
Breast Image (Nuclear Medicine)
You will be given an injection in the vein of your arm.
The injection will take about 5 minutes. After the
injection, you will lie on your stomach on a special
table. Images will be taken of your breasts with a
nuclear medicine camera. Additional images will be
taken of your chest while you are lying on your back
with your arms up. The Nuclear Medicine Technologist
will place small skin markers on your chest during the
imaging. The images will take about 1 hour. It is very
important that you lie still, or the images will become
Cardiac Stress Test
You should not eat or drink anything after midnight
before your test. Caffeine should also be avoided for
24 hours prior to the test. During the first part of
the test, an IV will be started in your arm. You will
receive an injection of Technetium Cardiolite, a
radioactive tracer. After a 30-45 minute wait, you will
then lie on an imaging table while a large camera takes
pictures of your heart in a resting condition. This
will take about 15-20 minutes. The stress part of the
test is next and will take approximately 1 hour with an
exercising time of less than 15 minutes. If you are
unable to exercise on a treadmill, the stress can also
be done as a pharmacologic stress using either
Dobutamine or Adenosine. The exercise technologist will
place 10 patches on your chest to monitor your heart's
activity. A blood pressure cuff will be put on your arm
to monitor your blood pressure. If you are able to walk
on the treadmill, you will exercise by walking on a
motorized treadmill with a doctor present. You will
begin walking at a very slow pace with the speed and
incline increasing every 3 minutes. As you are walking,
it is important to tell the doctor and technologist how
you are feeling. It is normal to get very tired and
short of breath while walking. The technologist will
encourage you to walk as long as possible. A small
amount of Cardiolite will again be injected into the IV
when your heart rate is at peak stress or at the
appropriate time after injecting Dobutamine or
Adenosine if you are being pharmacologically stressed.
You will be asked to keep walking for about 1 more
minute. You will then be asked to eat or drink, and
return to the nuclear medicine department 15-60 minutes
later, depending on the type of stress. A second set of
images of your heart will be obtained at this time. It
is important to lie still as the camera takes another
set of images for about 15-20 minutes.
This exam will study your liver and gallbladder
functions. You should not eat or drink anything for at
least 6 hours prior to your exam. You will be given an
injection of a radioactive tracer into the vein of your
arm. The examination can take up to 2 hours, and
includes the possibility of delayed views. After your
gallbladder has filled with the tracer (usually about 1
hour into the test), you will be given a 30 minute IV
infusion of CCK, a naturally occurring enzyme in your
digestive system, which will empty your gallbladder and
give the radiologist an ejection fraction for your
gallbladder. During the imaging you will be lying on
your back on a table. It is important that you hold
still or the images will be blurred.
GI Bleed Image
A GI Bleed is done to determine the site in the abdomen
that is actively bleeding. The technologist will draw a
small amount of you blood for tracer labeling. After
about 20 minutes this blood will be re-injected into
you blood stream. You will be imaged for about 1 1/2
hours with the possibility of taking additional images
at 3, 6, and 24 hours. You will be lying on your back
on a table during the imaging process. It is important
that you hold still or the images will be blurred.
Limited Bone Scan
An IV injection will be given in your arm during your
first visit. You may leave after the injection. Four
hours later, images will be performed of the area in
which the doctor is interested (when arms or legs are
scanned, both sides are imaged for comparison). The
injection takes five to 15 minutes and the scan time is
30 to 45 minutes.
Three Phase Bone Scan Images of the area of interest
are obtained during an IV injection in the arm during
your first visit. You may leave after the injection and
images. Four hours later, images will be performed of
the areas of interest (when arms or legs are scanned,
both sides are imaged for comparison). The first visit
takes 15 to 30 minutes. The second visit takes 30 to 45
You should not eat anything after midnight the day
before the scan. An IV injection will be administered.
Images will start five minutes after the injection and
continue until the organs of interest are seen. At
times, morphine may be injected to improve the study.
The exam is not painful, but it is advised you have a
driver with you in case morphine is needed. The exam
time varies from 45 minutes to several hours.
Lung Image (Nuclear Medicine)
The lung ventilation/perfusion exam will assist the
doctor in evaluating any abnormalities in your lungs.
The examination will take approximately 1 hour. You
will be lying on your back on a table. It is important
that you hold still during the exam, or the images will
be blurred. The lung scan is a two part procedure. The
first part of the exam involves breathing in a
radioactive gas through a mask to evaluate the air flow
to your lungs. This will take approximately 5 minutes.
The second part of the exam involves an injection of a
radioactive tracer in the vein of your arm. Following
the injection, eight different images of your lungs
will be taken to evaluate the blood flow to your lungs.
MUGA (Nuclear Medicine) The MUGA exam will check the
function of your heart. You will be given two
injections 30 minutes apart in the vein of your arm.
The procedure can take up to 1-1 1/2 hours. You will be
asked to lie on your back on a table. Some electrodes
will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart's
rhythm. A large camera will then teak images of your
heart so that the radiologist can evaluate the ejection
fraction and wall motion of the left ventricle of your
You will lie on your back on the scan table and will be
given an IV injection in your arm. Images will be
started immediately. The exam takes 30 to 45 minutes.
If your doctor orders the exam with Capoten, you will
be given the Capoten by the radiology nurse 60 minutes
before the exam is started. Your blood pressure will be
monitored by the nurse. The doctor will inform you
about your medications if they need to be discontinued
before the exam. You should not eat or drink three
hours before the Capoten exam.
Thyroid Uptake & Scan
On your first visit, a history will be taken by the
technologist and you will be given the isotope orally
in capsule form. You may leave the hospital after the
dose. Four hours later, images of the thyroid gland
will be performed. The next day (24 hours after the
capsules were given), you will return for an uptake, a
reading of how active your thyroid gland is. The first
visit takes 15 to 20 minutes. The second visit takes 45
to 60 minutes. The third visit takes five to 15
minutes. Certain thyroid medications or previous
contrast injections will affect the exam. If you are on
thyroid medication, please call Murray Hospital's
Radiology Department at (270) 762-1921
or talk to your doctor.
White Blood Cell Image: This exam will detect sites
of infection. The first day you arrive, the nuclear
medicine technologist will draw your blood for
labeling. The blood will be taken to the laboratory and
the white blood cells will be tagged with a radioactive
tracer in order to detect areas of disease. This
process will take 2 to 3 hours and will be followed by
a reinjection of your labeled cells into your IV.
Depending upon the reason for your exam, you will be
imaged at different times ranging from 1 hour post
injection to 24 hours later. Each session of imaging
may last up to 1 1/2 hours. During the exam you will be
lying on your back on a table. It is important to hold
still or the images will be blurred.
During the Exam
The individual who will be performing your exam is
known as a nuclear medicine technologist. The
technologist will obtain a medical history from you and
may require some identification. The isotope will then
be administered appropriately for the type of exam you
As discussed previously, some exams require a waiting
time between dose administration and the scan. You will
be told about this when your doctor's office schedules
you for the exam.
When it is time for the scan, the technologist will
position you on a scanning table and take the
appropriate images for your study. Most of the time you
will lie on your back and the camera will rotate around
you for various images. At times you may need to make
some position changes. You will be asked to lie still.
Each image takes from three minutes to one hour. The
length of time for the entire procedure varies
significantly. Your doctor's office will advise you of
the amount of time needed for your particular exam or
you may call Murray Hospital's Radiology
Department at (270) 762-1921.
Nuclear medicine scans are stored on x-ray film. A
radiologist (a physician specializing in x-ray and
nuclear medicine) will interpret the study and a
written report will be sent to your personal physician
who ordered the exam.
Inform the technologist if you may be pregnant. If
there is a possibility of pregnancy, a pregnancy test
will be ordered before the exam.
If you have questions about your bill, please call our
business office at (270)762-1296. The
radiologist's bill is separate from the hospital's. If
you have questions regarding your bill from the
radiologist, please call (270) 759-1805.
You must be registered in the hospital computer before
the exam can be performed. You should first report to
registration 30 minutes before your exam is scheduled.
If you are pre-registered, you may go directly to the
radiology department located on the hospital's first