Nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of low-level radioactive material called radiotracers to see inside the body. This form of imaging is used to diagnose and treat many types of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and gastrointestinal, endocrine and neurological disorders.
After you swallow, inhale or are injected with a small dose of radioactive material, it is absorbed by the organ or tissue being tested. Sometimes this takes time, and you may be asked to come back for the actual scan several hours or a day after receiving the radioactive material.
The radioactive material produces emissions, which can be detected by a special camera or scanner. The scanner works with a computer to convert the emissions into an image. The doctor can view the images and look for areas that appear abnormal.
During the scan itself, you will be asked to lie down on a table. The nuclear medicine imaging camera will be placed over the area to be examined. All you need to do is relax and stay calm during the scan, which can last from 15 minutes to one hour.
After the procedure, the Mercy imaging professional will answer any questions you may have. A Mercy radiologist will interpret the images and report the findings to your doctor.