Safe, painless, and cost-effective
Aurora BayCare provides nuclear medicine exams using the latest technology and radiation-dose-reduction techniques. Every scan is interpreted by a nuclear medicine specialist.
A diagnostic and treatment technology, nuclear medicine imaging determines diseases of organs and systems on the basis of metabolic changes in your body. A specialized area of radiology, nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive materials, or radiopharmaceuticals, to examine organ function. Abnormalities are often identified in the very early stages of disease using nuclear imaging processes.
A nuclear medicine specialist administers radiopharmaceuticals and then monitors the tissues or organs in which the drugs localize. Special cameras and computer applications are used to detect and map the radioactive drug in your body. Higher-or lower-than-expected concentrations of radioactivity indicate abnormalities.
Nuclear medicine is often used not only to diagnose but to treat abnormalities early in the disease lifecycle. Nuclear imaging processes are safe, painless, and cost-effective.
Common Nuclear Exams
Some of the more common nuclear medicine scans:
- Bone scans - used to evaluate changes in bone density and diagnose osteoporosis.
- Brain scans - used to investigate problems within the brain and/or in the blood circulation to the brain.
- Gallium scans - used to diagnose active infectious diseases, tumors, and abscesses. Gallium scans are typically performed two days after you are injected with gallium.
- Heart scans - used to identify abnormal blood flow to the heart, the extent of the damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack, and to measure heart function.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) - measures important body functions, such as blood flow, oxygen use, and sugar (glucose) metabolism, to help doctors evaluate how well organs and tissues are functioning.
- Renal scans - used to examine the kidneys and to detect any abnormalities, such as tumors or obstruction of the renal blood flow.
- Thyroid scans - used to evaluate thyroid function
Nuclear medicine exams involve intravenous injection or ingestion (swallowing) of specially formulated compounds (tracers). Tracers are attracted to specific organs, bones or tissues in the body and can be detected by special types of cameras.
In most cases, the total amount of radiation you receive from a nuclear medicine scan is comparable to what you would receive during an X-ray. Most exams will take one to five hours to complete.
PET/CT combines the functional information from a positron emission tomography (PET) exam with the anatomical information from a computed tomography (CT) exam into one single exam.
This test is used to detect abnormal tissue activity throughout the body by measuring body functions such as blood flow, oxygen use, and sugar (glucose) metabolism. With PET/CT, glucose (sugar) is combined with a radioactive tracer and injected into your bloodstream. Detectors are then used to locate areas of increased accumulation of the tracer.
A PET/CT exam not only helps your doctor diagnose a problem, it also helps pinpoint the best approach to treat and monitor your progress.