Diagnostic Tests and Studies

This information is intended for patients attending for diagnostic studies or tests in Nuclear Medicine.

For information on specific studies or tests click on the appropriate link:

General Information

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 administered into a vein in your arm. This is through a needle similar to that used for a blood test. Sometimes the radioactivity can be inhaled as a gas, swallowed as a capsule, consumed as a liquid or injected under the skin. The type of procedure you have been referred for will determine the method of administration. You can have telephone us if you need further information about this.

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.

Are there any side effects?

There are no side effects from the radiation 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. If you have been referred for a Nuclear Medicine scan it will be because your doctor has decided that the benefits from having the scan far outweigh the risks from the radiation.

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.

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