Diagnostic tests and studies
This information is intended for patients attending for diagnostic studies or tests in Nuclear Medicine.
What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear Medicine is a specialty which uses radioactivity for diagnosis and treatment of certain diseases.
How is the radioactivity administered?
Usually the radioactivity is injected into a vein. Sometimes it is inhaled as a gas.
What is involved in a diagnostic scan?
After the radioactivity has been administered, a special camera is used to take images.
The time between the administration and the images depends on the type of scan. You will be given information about which particular scan type in your appointment letter and further information may be found in specific scan types.
For the images you will need to lie still for a short period of time (20 – 40 minutes) but occasionally you may be asked to sit or stand. You will not normally be required to remove any clothes but you will be asked to remove jewellery. There is no tunnel to go into although the camera will come close to your body.
A radiographer will remain in the room during the scan.
Do I need to prepare for the scan?
Generally there is no preparation for the scan. Eat as normal and take any medication as usual. Exceptions are given under information about the specific scan type and in your appointment letter.
Are there any side effects?
There are no side effects and it does not prevent you from driving a car.
Is there any risk?
The amount of radioactivity you will receive is small, similar to doses received from X-ray examinations.
There is no risk to other members of your family but if there are small children or babies in the house it is advisable not to spend long periods of time cuddling them for 24 hours after your injection.
Do I need to do anything after the scan?
You should drink as much as possible for the rest of the day to help wash the radioactivity out of your body through the urine.
Is there anything I should tell the staff?
Please tell the staff in Nuclear Medicine if you are breast feeding or if there is any chance you may be pregnant before you receive the radioactive substance.
Can I bring a friend/relative with me?
You are welcome to bring a companion with you but please do not bring children unless it is absolutely necessary.
When will the doctor have the results?
The doctor who referred you for the scan usually will have a report within one week.
The radiographers who perform the scan are not permitted to report or comment on your investigation so we would be grateful if you would refrain from asking them to do so.