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Nuclear medicine relies on the process of radioactive decay and the use of tracers to diagnose and treat diseases. The radioactive tracer goes to the part of the body or type of tissue that needs to be imaged. Tracers are given in different ways depending on the study.
The cameras that are used in nuclear medicine come in different shapes and sizes. These cameras may move across the body, rotate around the body or remain still. The camera may travel close to the body to improve image quality, but will not touch the patient.
The camera scans for the radioactive tracer. The type of exam will determine if the imaging occurs immediately − or up to a few days − after the tracer is given.
Imaging time is dependent on the type of exam ordered. On average, it takes one hour to complete the pictures. Parents are welcome in the scan room for most procedures.
Your child may need to hold still for the imaging. The patient may watch a DVD or listen to a CD during the exam. You may bring one from home or choose one from our selection.
If the patient is scheduled with anesthesia or sedation, an anesthesia imaging nurse will contact you with preparation instructions. These instructions must be followed carefully.
If the patient is not scheduled with sedation or anesthesia, there may be preparation instructions for the specific type of exam. This information will be given during the scheduling.
Radiology staff will ask you to fill out forms asking about allergies, medications, possibility of pregnancy, surgeries and implanted metal objects.
If your child does not receive sedation or anesthesia, she should be able to resume normal activities immediately.
If your child receives anesthesia or sedation, you will be given discharge instructions.
The results are sent to the ordering doctor. Your child’s physician will discuss the findings with you.
Have a question or comment about nuclear medicine? Visit our contact page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about specific nuclear medicine tests in our Health Topics section.
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