Nuclear medicine (or Gamma Camera) normally involves the injection of a radioactive drug followed by images of the distribution of that drug within the body. Most tests will require an initial injection followed by a delay of a specified time followed by a set of images. Details of this will be sent out with your appointment information.
Generally, the injection will be into the elbow or hand (like a blood test), but this may vary according to the test. The delay following the injection is to give the drug time to get to where it needs to go in the body (i.e. lung, bone, kidney, heart). If there is a delay between injection and imaging you may be able to leave the department or the hospital and return for imaging later. You will receive specific instructions when you attend for your scan.
Some restrictions may apply due to the radioactive nature of the drugs – these may include a need to avoid prolonged contact with young children or pregnant women. These precautions would normally last for between 12 and 24 hours. You may also be advised to drink more than usual and to empty your bladder more often than you would normally in order to help remove the drug from your body more quickly.
During the scan you will normally be asked to lie on the imaging couch on your back and will need to stay in this position while the images are taken. The machine may rotate around you. Although the machine will not touch you it may come very close to you during some scans.
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