Nuclear Imaging

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Nuclear medicine (nuclear imaging) uses very small amounts of radioactive chemicals or drugs to diagnose and treat disease. These radioactive drugs are substances that are attracted to specific organs, bones or tissues.

The drugs used in nuclear medicine give off gamma rays, which can be detected outside your body by special cameras called gamma cameras. These cameras create images that provide information about the area of the body being imaged.

Nuclear medicine scans have the following in common:

  • They all use a version of a Gamma Camera, or SPECT camera, to take images
  • The level of radioactivity used is extremely low and has no side effects
  • Each scan requires two steps, sometimes two visits  first an injection, then the actual scan
  • You may be given a laxative to take before the second visit
  • If the scan was not complete, you may be required to return for another imaging session

Types of Nuclear Imaging

Gallium Scan

This scan shows: Areas of infection and inflammation, as well as certain types of cancer

The procedure includes: An injection on the first visit, followed by imaging two days later

The scan lasts: 1 to 1 ½ hours


This scan shows: The sentinel lymph node, or the first draining lymph node nearest a cancer

The procedure includes: An injection, followed by a scan

The scan lasts: 15 minutes / 1 to 1 ½ hours 

OctreoScan Imaging

The scan shows: Tumors in your body

The procedure includes: An injection, followed by a scan

The scan lasts: 15 minutes / 2 to 2 ½ hours 

Prostascint Scan

The scan shows: Prostate cancer cells in your body

The procedure includes: An injection, followed by a scan

The scan lasts: 45-60 minutes / about 2 hours

Worth noting: About 80% of our patients need to come back the following day for additional pictures