Nuclear Medicine

Most Nuclear medicine tests use a small amount of radioactive tracer which is injected into a vein (or swallowed, depending on the procedure). Images are then taken by a gamma camera, which picks up the gamma rays released by the tracer.

Nuclear Medicine can provide early detection of a range of diseases from heart disease, bone and joint pain to stress fractures – as well as functional information for many organs of the body (such as kidney, gall bladder, thyroid, lymph nodes) and screening for cancer. This early detection means that treatment begins sooner than conventional radiology would have even detected a problem, thus allowing for a better overall prognosis.

Please advise us beforehand

These tests utilise a radioactive injection so it’s very important to let us know if you are/or may be pregnant or currently breastfeeding.

Please also let us know on booking your appointment if you have previously had any reactions to nuclear medicine radioisotope injections.

Preparation

Please bring your referral, Medicare and/or Pension Health Care Card and any previous imaging relating to the region being scanned.

We will give you instructions for the procedure you are having at the time you make your appointment. Some tests may require fasting or ceasing medications and caffeine for 24 hours prior.

Special precautions

Allergic reactions to Nuclear Medicine injections can occur but significant reactions are rare, and generally respond to adrenaline. Our staff members are equipped and trained to treat such reactions. You should not feel any effects from the injection.

What happens during the procedure

Each Nuclear Medicine procedure is different. Our staff will be happy to talk your specific test through with you when you make your appointment.

Scanning will vary depending on the examination being performed. With some scans the isotope or injection is taken up very quickly, so the scan will take approximately 30 minutes. For other examinations you may need to return for a second scan after 2-3 hours or even later. Our reception staff and our technologist will advise you at the time of booking (particularly on the day of the test) how long your specific examination will take.

How long does it take?

Each Nuclear Medicine test is different – in some, the injection is taken up quickly, meaning the scan can be completed in approx. 30 minutes, where others may require you to return for a scan 2–3 hours later. Our staff will be happy to talk your specific test through with you when you make your appointment.

After your examination

As the amount of radiation your body will emit is dependent on the procedure you have done, it is recommended that you minimise close contact with others (especially babies and small children) for up to 24 hours. There are special requirements for breast feeding mothers.

Your images and report

As there is a large amount of data to be processed for some Nuclear Medicine results, your results may not be ready straight away. We will advise you at the time of your booking when they will be ready. PRP will store digital copies of all studies on our secure database for comparison with any future examinations.

Please bring any previous images with you for comparison.

It is important that you return to your doctor with your examination results. Whether they are normal or abnormal, your doctor needs to know promptly so that a management plan can be formulated.