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What is nuclear medicine?

Nuclear medicine is a special branch of imaging that uses tiny amounts of radioactive substances called radiotracers to diagnose disease and evaluate functions within the body. Taken orally or by intravenous (IV) injection, radiotracers accumulate in targeted organs or tissue where they give off energy that can be captured by a gamma camera.

Before Your Exam

You will receive specific instructions depending on the type of nuclear scan being performed. You may be instructed not to eat or drink, or take certain medications for several hours before the procedure. If food is restricted, bring a bottle or snack with you to have after the exam — once the nurse or technologist gives you permission to do so.

Please wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing without zippers, clasps, buckles, buttons or any metal. You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure. Metal objects — including jewelry and hairpins — should be left at home or removed prior to the exam. Inform the doctor or our staff about any medications you are currently taking, any allergies you may have and any recent illnesses.

What to Expect

As the procedure starts, you will be given the radiotracer either by intravenous injection, in pill form or mixed with food. If given intravenously, you will feel a pinprick. The oral form has little or no taste.

For the scan, you will be asked to lie very still on a padded table while the scanner acquires the diagnostic images. The length of the imaging varies based on the test you are having.

Many people who suffer from claustrophobia are able to tolerate our scan due to the openness of our scanner. However, if you are concerned that this could be an issue, please contact your ordering physician to obtain medication to bring to your appointment.

After Your Exam

You may leave as soon as your exam is completed. Unless you have received special instructions, you may eat, drive, resume normal activity and exercise. You may also take all prescribed medications. If you took a sedative for anxiety before the scan, please arrange to have someone drive you home.

Results from the procedure will be sent to your ordering physician within two business days. You may also access your medical records online by creating an account at FloridaHospital.com. If you have any questions regarding your exam, please don’t hesitate to ask your technologist.