Frequently Asked Questions about Nuclear Medicine
“What is Nuclear Medicine?”
Nuclear Medicine is a part of Radiology which looks at bodily functions rather than structures to diagnose disease or injuries. This involves injection of a liquid radioactive substance in most cases (sometimes you swallow the solid or liquid form and sometimes could be asked to inhale an aerosol form). This liquid will not make you feel any different.
This radioactive liquid can be attached to many different pharmaceuticals depending on what organ is being investigated. Images of the distribution of tracer within your body are then taken by a gamma camera. These images will then be processed by our Nuclear Medicine Scientist and interpreted by our Nuclear Medicine Specialists.
“Are there any side effects?”
It is extremely rare to have any reaction to the injected radiopharmaceutical. It is a radioactive injection, and therefore you will become slightly radioactive for a short period of time. It is recommended not to spend an extended amount of time in close proximity to very young children or pregnant woman for the few hours after the injection.
“Are there any radiation risks associated with this test?”
You will be exposed to a small amount of radioactivity during your scan. It is important to keep in mind that natural radiation is all around us and cannot be avoided. If you have any concerns you should discuss this with your doctor.
“Is it claustrophobic?”
The cameras are quite large and move in very close but they are not a fully enclosed tunnel and only stay in front of you for few minutes before passing over the rest of your body.
“I don’t like needles. Will it hurt?”
Injections for Nuclear Medicine go into a vein in your arm or hand, not the organ being imaged. The needle used for Nuclear Medicine procedures is extremely tiny. Much smaller than a blood test needle and the same size that can be used for new born babies. The actual amount of tracer which is injected is often no more than half a millilitre.
“Is there a waiting list?”
There is no waiting list for Nuclear Medicine procedures.
“How much does it cost?”
We bulk bill all Medicare eligible Nuclear Medicine procedures. This includes almost all Nuclear Medicine procedures which your doctor would refer you for.
“What are your responsibilities as a patient?”
· Bring your Medicare card and the referral from your doctor
· Keep yourself well hydrated before the test and between different stages of the test (you do not have to hold you bladder)
· Contact our friendly staff prior to your test
- if there is any chance that you may be pregnant or breastfeeding
- you are unable to make your appointment (24 hours notice is appreciated as your injection will have already been ordered for you on the day of your procedure)
“How long does a scan take?”
There are many different types of Nuclear Medicine procedures for many different organs. Some procedures are completed within 30 minutes, others take 2 hours and others involve multiple visits on either one day or throughout multiple days. This is largely based on how the body naturally behaves and cannot be avoided (e.g. testing how fast the stomach empties takes 1½ hours not because the scanner is slow but because we are observing a bodily function).
“What happens afterwards?”
The tracer will leave your system after about 24 hours.
“Any other questions?”
Please feel free to give us a call at our Tweed Clinic on 07 5536 3688 and our Nuclear Medicine Scientist is more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.