Nuclear Medicine

What is a Nuclear Medicine Exam?

Nuclear Medicine imaging uses small amounts of radioactive materials called radiotracers that are typically injected into the bloodstream, inhaled, or swallowed. The radiotracer travels through the area being examined and gives off energy in the form of gamma rays which are detected by a special camera and a computer to create images of the inside of your body. 

Nuclear Medicine at Spencer Hospital is used by our health care team for a variety of tests and treatments including:

  • Bone Scans
  • Cardiac Stress Tests
  • Liver and Biliary scans
  • Gastric intestinal bleed scans
  • Thyroid scans

Nuclear Medicine imaging provides unique information that often cannot be obtained using other imaging procedures and offers the potential to identify disease in its earliest states.

What do I Need to do to Prepare for the Exam?

Depending on what type of Nuclear Medicine exam you are having will depend on the preparation involved.  You physician will instruct you on any preparation that is needed for the exam.  If you have questions, please call the Diagnostic Imaging department at 712-264-6500, and we would be happy to assist you.

What Should I Expect when I Arrive?

Please enter entrance B of Spencer Hospital and stop at our Patient Registration area just beyond the Gift Shop.  In our private patient registration room, your personal and insurance information will be updated.  Once you are registered, you will be directed to the Diagnostic Imaging department.

What will I Experience During the Exam?

You will be positioned on an examination table where a registered Nuclear Medicine technologist will insert an IV catheter into a vein in your hand or arm.  Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam you are undergoing, the dose of radiotracer is then injected intravenously, swallowed, or inhaled as a gas. It can take anywhere from several seconds to several days for the radiotracer to travel through your body and accumulate in the organ or area being studies.  Because of the varying time frames, imaging may be done immediately, a few hours later, or even several days after you have received the radioactive material. 

When it is time for the imaging to begin, the scanner will take a series of images.  While the scanner is taking pictures, you will need to remain still for brief periods of time. 

The length of time for nuclear medicine procedures varies greatly, depending on the type of exam.  Scan times vary from 20 minutes to several hours and may be conducted over several days.

Who will be in the Exam Room with Me?

A registered Nuclear Medicine technologist will be performing your exam in our Nuclear Medicine suite. 

What do I need to do After the Exam?

Unless the technologist or your physician tells you differently, you may resume your normal activities after your nuclear medicine exam.  If any special instructions are necessary, you will be informed by the technologist before you leave the Diagnostic Imaging department.

When will I receive the Results of the Exam?

You will receive your results from your ordering physician.  You may receive a phone call or have a follow up appointment with your physician.  If you are unsure of how you will receive your results or have questions regarding your results, please contact your physician’s office.

Quality healthcare at Spencer Hospital is our top priority to best care for our patients.  All of Spencer Hospital’s Nuclear Medicine Technologists are certified by the Board of Nuclear Medicine.