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- Diagnostic Radiology
- Interventional Services
- Screening Services
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What is Nuclear Medicine?
Via Radiology performs nuclear medicine examinations in Seattle, WA, to evaluate both body anatomy and function. The images are produced by x-ray emissions from radioactive substances given to the patient, either intravenously or by mouth. Generally, radiation to the patient from a nuclear medicine exam is similar to that resulting from standard x-ray examinations. During the imaging you will be lying on a table while a “camera” creates a picture from the radiation coming from your body. Since the pictures can take an extended period to acquire, it is necessary to remain still. The camera is silent.
Is the exam safe?
The doses of radiation used for diagnostic tests are quite small. The substances (radiopharmaceuticals) are very safe and allergic reactions are quite rare. Because the radiopharmaceuticals are designed to be handled the same way naturally occurring compounds are, side effects are extremely rare.
What should I wear?
Comfortable, loose fitting clothing should be worn.
What preparation is needed?
In general, for the more common examinations using nuclear medicine, no special preparation is needed.
How long will it take?
Total time varies by exam. See below.
What can be expected after the exam?
There are no physical changes to be noted following the examination. Your nuclear medicine examination will be transferred to films, similar in appearance to an x-ray film, for your referring physician if requested. If necessary, there is ample opportunity to have consultation between radiologists, which improves your final report.
When will my physician get results?
A Via Radiology radiologist will study the images from your nuclear medicine examination and provide a written report which includes a description of the findings, any diagnosis that can be made from the nuclear medicine exam, as well as a recommendation for further studies if needed. Our reports are usually available within 24 hours of completion of the nuclear medicine examination, and are generally received by your physician within two working days. A report may be delayed if we are awaiting studies from an outside facility for comparison purposes. If the results are urgent or if you are seeing your doctor on the same day as your exam, your doctor may request that a preliminary report be phoned or faxed.
Bone scan – this is used to evaluate for bone lesions from arthritis, tumor or infection. There is a 3 to 4 hour delay between receiving the radioactive material and scanning. The scan takes between 20 and 60 minutes depending on the areas of interest and the degree of detail required. No special preparation is needed.
Thyroid uptake and scan – this is performed to evaluate thyroid function, and to look for activity within thyroid nodules. At Northwest Hospital this is done with a single small dose of radioactive iodine. Uptake is measures at 6 and 24 hours.
Renal function – this is performed to determine if the kidneys function equally. The examination can assess for obstruction.
Cardiac left ventricular function and coronary blood flow – This is performed for assessment of chest pain and requires 2 doses of radiopharmaceutical, one given with the patient at rest, the other at peak exercise. If you cannot exercise on a treadmill, drugs can be given instead to assess blood flow.
Tagged white cell scan – this is performed to look for infection. The test involves blood being drawn from your body, the white blood cells separated and labeled with a small amount of radioactivity. This examination often requires imaging at 24 and 48 hours.
Gallbladder scan – this is to assess for blockage to the gallbladder and involves injection of a small amount of a radioactive compound. Images are then obtained over an hour, or more.
Gastric emptying – this is performed to measure how the stomach empties. Usually an egg and orange juice are given with a small amount of radioactive material. Imaging is then performed for 90 minutes.
For more information on nuclear medicine, please visit www.Radiologyinfo.org