What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear Imaging is a method of producing medical images by detecting radiation from different parts of the body after a radioactive tracer material is administered. The images are recorded digitally, which the nuclear imaging physician studies to make a diagnosis on diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Radioactive tracers used in nuclear medicine are, in most cases, injected into a vein. However, for some studies, the tracer may be administered by mouth. These tracers are not dyes or medicines, and they have no side effects. The amount of radiation a patient receives in a typical nuclear medicine procedure tends to be very low, typically less than that of a CT scan.
Our Nuclear Medicine Technologists are registered with the Washington State Department of Health and certified nationally with the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB).
The Nuclear Medicine Department at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center is accredited through the American College of Radiology (ACR).
The ACR certificate of accreditation gives assurance that staff and equipment have passed the ACR's rigorous evaluation. The ACR accreditation program provides the highest level of confidence for patients and referring physicians that only the highest quality of care is being provided by these accredited facilities.
Before Your Exam
- Be sure to mention the medications you take and ask if it’s okay to take them before your test
- You will be given a trace amount of radioactive material, which may be injected, swallowed or inhaled
- Your scan may then be done right away, or you may need to wait a few hours or even days to allow the tracer to concentrate in the part of the body being studied
- Your scan may take a few hours; bring something you can do if you need to wait
Let the technologist know if you:
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have had a nuclear medicine scan before
- Have had a recent barium study or an x-ray using contrast
- Have any fractures or artificial joints
- Have any allergies
Travel Issues With the Use of Nuclear Medicine Isotopes
The radiation involved in our studies is on par with other radiology procedures. The exception is that the isotopes are in you. For this reason, we will warn you that border crossings, ferries and other areas are monitored by the Department of Homeland Security for radiation and you may set off their meters for a few days following your exam. If you will be traveling, please let the Technologist know and they will be happy to supply you with a travel letter to document your visit with the Nuclear Medicine department.