A nuclear medicine scan at NYU Langone’s imaging services requires the administration of radioactive material to be injected into the body, swallowed, or inhaled. The amount given is very small.
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The pharmaceutical part of the radiopharmaceutical goes to a specific place in the body where there could be disease. The radioactive part emits radiation known as gamma rays, which is detected with a gamma camera.
A gamma camera allows a nuclear medicine physician to see what is happening inside your body. During this imaging procedure, the patient lies on a bed with the gamma camera positioned a few inches above his or her body. Images are taken over the next few minutes. These images allow our radiologists to diagnose a patient’s condition.
The way you prepare for a nuclear medicine procedure depends on the type of exam you are having, such as a bone scan, hepatobiliary scan, renogram, or thyroid scan.
To ensure accurate test results, follow the preparation instructions given when scheduling your appointment. When making your appointment, please indicate any medications you are taking or if you have any special needs.
Please bring any previous imaging studies and reports with you if they were performed at another institution. You also need your identification card, insurance card, scan prescription, labs, and related forms.
When you arrive for your appointment, you need to change into a gown if you are wearing any clothing with metal in it.
Please advise the technologist if there is a chance that you may be pregnant.
After you change, a technologist escorts you to the injection room or procedure room depending on the exam being performed. The technologist interviews you to take a detailed medical history before administering a radiopharmaceutical. The exam type determines if images are taken shortly after, several hours later, or the next day.
The scan length depends on the type of exam. During the scan, you are visible to and can communicate with the technologist, who is present in the room at all times.
At the end of the scan, the nuclear medicine physician on duty reviews your images.
The results of the scan are interpreted by our nuclear medicine physicians and sent immediately to your referring physician, who contacts you with the results.
A specialized type of nuclear imaging is nuclear cardiology stress testing. Experts at NYU Langone’s nuclear cardiology stress testing laboratory perform a range of tests that help cardiologists diagnose and assess many forms of heart disease. Testing is performed daily under the supervision of a board-certified cardiologist, and studies are interpreted by cardiologists and radiologists with advanced training in nuclear cardiology and cardiac imaging.
Patients are referred to our laboratory for a variety of reasons. Many patients with cardiac risk factors, such as smoking, high cholesterol, family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, are referred to our experts to be evaluated for the likelihood of coronary artery disease.
In addition, patients with chest pain or other high-risk symptoms are referred to us to find out whether heart disease is the cause of these symptoms. Patients with a known history of heart disease are often sent to us for an evaluation to assess the effectiveness of their medications. Finally, nuclear imaging of the heart is also used to provide information on the strength of the heart muscle.
Stress testing most commonly involves exercise on the treadmill. For patients who are unable to exercise, pharmacologic substitutes can be used, including dipyridamole, adenosine, regadenoson, and dobutamine.
To make an appointment or learn more about cardiac imaging at NYU Langone, call 212-263-5666.
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