Bone Scan

A nuclear medicine bone scan is a diagnostic test used to evaluate abnormalities involving bones and joints and to detect infection, bone lesions, degenerative bone disorders or fractures.

What To Expect

This is a two-part exam. First, during a 15-minute visit, a radioactive tracer will be injected into a vein. In some cases, images will be taken during the injection. You will be asked to return two to four hours after the injection for imaging. Within that time, please drink two to four glasses of fluid—water, sodas and coffee are all acceptable. Empty your bladder as frequently as possible. When you return, a scan will be taken using a gamma camera. You will lie comfortably on a scan table during the exam. That portion of the exam will take about 30 to 60 minutes.

Gallium Scan

A gallium scan is a nuclear medicine test that is conducted with a camera that detects gallium, which is a radionuclide—a radioactive chemical substance.

Gallium is known to accumulate in inflamed, infected or cancerous tissues. The scans are used to determine if a patient with an unexplained fever has an infection, and to identify the site of any infection. Gallium scans also may be used to evaluate cancer following chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

What To Expect

Gallium scans usually require two visits to the nuclear medicine department.

During the first appointment, which will last about 15 minutes, you will be given an injection of gallium into a vein in your arm. The injection will cause no more discomfort than having blood drawn.

You will be scheduled to return for imaging 72 hours later. Imaging may involve several close-up views, whole body scanning or tomography.

During the imaging process, you must lie very still on an imaging table for about 30 to 60 minutes. A camera will be moved across your body to detect and capture images of concentrations of the gallium. Back (posterior) and front (anterior) views usually are taken, and sometimes a side (lateral) view is used.

The camera may occasionally touch your skin, but will not cause any discomfort.

The camera will detect signals from any areas in which the radionuclide has accumulated.

How to prepare

When you schedule your appointment, we will inform you about any specific preparations depending upon the specific procedure your doctor has ordered. Please contact the Scheduling Department at 949/764-5573 if you have any questions.

Generally, no special dietary restrictions are necessary. The physician may ask you to confine your diet to light or clear meals within the day before the procedure. Many patients will be given laxatives or an enema just before the scan to eliminate any residual gallium from the bowels.

Please complete, print out and bring with you the following forms to your appointment:

Outpatient Medication Reconciliation - Download PDF

Follow-up care

Women who are nursing infants are cautioned against breast-feeding for four weeks following a gallium scan.

Gastric Emptying Scan (GES)

A gastric emptying scan (GES) is a nuclear medicine exam that enables doctors to identify stomach abnormalities. Radioactive material embedded in a meal emits gamma rays, which are detected by a gamma camera that produces electronic images of the stomach. This test offers the best means of detecting diseases that affect stomach contractions, an important function of the digestive process.

What To Expect

You will begin by drinking a liquid or eating a meal in which a nuclear medicine technologist has mixed a trace amount of radioactive material. You will not taste the radioactive tracer, nor will it have any affect on your bodily functions.

After you finish the meal, you will be asked to stand in front of a gamma camera for 1 minute. Additional images will be taken every hour up to 4 hours. You may bring a book or other materials with you to occupy your time in between images. When patients are children, their parents or guardians stay with them throughout the entire procedure.

How to prepare

When you schedule your appointment, we will inform you about any specific preparations depending upon the specific procedure your doctor has ordered. Please contact the Scheduling Department at 949/764-5573 if you have any questions.

Patient is to be Nil Per Os "nothing by mouth" (NPO) for at least 6 hours prior to the exam. Medications can be taken in the morning with a small amount of water. Diabetics should bring insulin with them to take following the meal provided. Patients will be given a meal of eggs and toast that has been labeled with a tracer. Patients who are unable to eat eggs will be given oatmeal.

Patients should expect to be at the site for 4 hours. Images are taken for 1 minute each - immediately after the meal, at 1 hour, 2 hours and 4 hours. In between images, patients are free to sit, stand or walk, but should not leave the facility. You must not eat, drink or smoke during the six-hour period preceding your exam. If you are allergic to eggs or any other foods, or you have dietary restrictions, please let us know at the time that we schedule your exam.

For infants and children, please bring formula or fruit juice to the exam in a disposable container.

Patients who use feeding tubes must bring their own tubes and syringes. These items may not be returned to you if they remain radioactive by the end of the exam.

Please complete, print out and bring with you the following forms to your appointment:

Outpatient Medication Reconciliation -Download PDF

Hepatobiliary (Gallbladder) HIDA Scan

A gallbladder nuclear medicine scan can assess gallbladder function. It is used to detect abnormalities of the gallbladder and to diagnose blockages of the duct that leads from the gallbladder to the small intestine or to assess inflammation (cholecystitis). Common reasons for having a gallbladder scan include pain in the right upper abdomen, loss of appetite, or nausea and vomiting.

What To Expect

You will be asked to lie on a table while a small amount of radiotracer is injected into a vein in the arm. After the radiotracer is injected, a special camera, called a detector, will be positioned close to your abdomen. The detector will take pictures continuously for 60 minutes as the tracer passes through your liver and into your gallbladder and small intestine. You will need to lie very still during this time to avoid blurring the pictures. If your physician needs additional information about how your gallbladder is functioning, you will be given a second intravenous injection of a medication to make your gallbladder contract. Images will be acquired for an additional 20-30 minutes.

The images will be interpreted by a radiologist who specializes in nuclear medicine imaging and a report will be sent to your doctor.

Nuclear Renal Scan

A renal imaging scan is a simple outpatient test that involves injecting small amounts of radioactive substances called “tracers” into the body, and then recording images of the kidneys and bladder using a special camera that is sensitive to the tracers. The images obtained can help in the diagnosis and treatment of certain kidney diseases.

Renal exams show various structures that make up the kidney, and also indicate how well the kidneys are functioning.

What To Expect

You will be asked to lie comfortably on an exam table. A nuclear medicine technologist will position the camera as close as possible to your kidney to obtain the best images.

The technologist will administer the radiopharmaceutical tracer material either with one injection or through an intravenous (IV) line. Imaging will begin immediately after the tracer is injected.

You must lie still during imaging to prevent blurring. Renal imaging exams take from 45 minutes to two hours to complete, but most typically require about 45 to 60 minutes. Once satisfactory images have been obtained, a nuclear medicine radiologist will interpret them and will send a report to your physician.

How to prepare

When you schedule your appointment, we will inform you about any specific preparations depending upon the specific procedure your doctor has ordered. Please contact the Scheduling Department at 949/764-5573 if you have any questions.

No preparation is ordinarily necessary for a kidney nuclear medicine scan. We may ask you to refrain from taking certain medications before the scan as they might interfere with the test. Specific instructions will be given to you when scheduling your exam.

Please complete, print out and bring with you the following forms to your appointment

Outpatient Medication Reconciliation -Download PDF

Thyroid Uptake and Scan

A thyroid scan is used to study the structure and function of the thyroid gland, including size, shape and location. A radioactive tracer material allows the nuclear medicine physician to examine the thyroid function.

What To Expect

This is a two-day procedure. On the first day, you will be asked questions regarding any prior tests, medication, symptoms or family history of thyroid problems. You will then be given one to three capsules containing radioactive iodine that will accumulate in your thyroid. The process takes 30 minutes. After consuming the pills, you may continue to eat and drink anything you please. Patients sometimes are asked to return in four to six hours and at 24 hours for thyroid assessment.

The scan will be performed on the second day, for which no special preparation is required. You will lie comfortably on a scanning table while images of your thyroid are produced during a 30-minutes session. After the exam, the technologist will process your images using a computer. A radiologist will evaluate the images and dictate a report, which will be sent to your physician. You will receive the results of the exam from your doctor.

How to prepare

When you schedule your appointment, we will inform you about any specific preparations depending upon the specific procedure your doctor has ordered. Please contact the Scheduling Department at 949/764-5573 if you have any questions.

You should not consume any oral iodides (such as Lugols solution or vitamins containing iodine) during the two-week period preceding the exam. You also should refrain from eating fish, kelp or other iodine-rich foods for at least five days prior to the exam. Additionally, you may be asked to discontinue certain types of medications up to a week before the appointment. For example, you should not take any thyroid hormones or any thyro-suppressive drugs such as PTU. You must not have undergone X-ray exams involving iodine contrast, such as an IVP or CT, during the past two to three months because contrast media can interfere with this exam.

Please complete, print out and bring with you the following forms to your appointment

Outpatient Medication Reconciliation -Download PDF

Side effects and complications

The iodine used for this exam is inorganic and will not cause reactions like those sometimes experienced with the contrast used in X-ray procedures. If you are nursing an infant or may possibility be pregnant, please speak with your referring physician before your scheduled appointment.