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    Medical Services

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    Nuclear Medicine Studies


    This is a special type of imaging designed to study the function of an organ. You will be injected with or given orally a mildly radioactive substance that targets a particular organ in the body. The radioactive substance, called an isotope, will center in the area of your body that your Physician wants to investigate. You will then be put under a gamma camera. This camera does not put off any radiation; it utilizes special technology to make an image using the radiation coming from the isotope in your body. Typically, the Nuclear Medicine exam takes longer than an X-ray, CT, or Ultrasound because it is dependent on the action of your body. The majority of the exams performed at Chestatee Regional Hospital utilize the isotope Technetium. The half-life, or the amount of time in which half of the isotope is gone, for Technetium is six hours.

    Bone Scan

    The purpose of this exam is to determine if the bone is damaged in any way. It can detect tumors of the bone or fractures/breaks that cannot be seen on X-ray. It can also detect if there is an infection in the bone. You may eat and drink normally before this exam. You will come into the hospital at your scheduled time and receive an injection of the isotope. You will return later in the day, approximately 4 hours after injection, and the Nuclear Medicine Technologist will take the images. You will be asked to force fluids during the time between injection and imaging and your urine will be mildly radioactive.

    Hepatobiliary Scan

    HIDA The purpose of this exam is to demonstrate the filling and emptying of the gallbladder. Sometimes it is ordered for a patient who has had their gallbladder removed, to see how well the common bile duct is functioning. You cannot have had any barium products (CT contrast, UGI barium) 10 days prior to the exam. You should not eat or drink anything for 6 to 8 hours prior to the exam. You will receive an injection of the isotope and images will be taken immediately. Then images will be taken every 5 minutes for 20 minutes then every 15 minutes until 2 hours have passed. If the gallbladder shows in the images before two hours, that part of the exam will be considered completed. After the gallbladder shows in the images, you will be given an injection to make the gallbladder contract. This may make you feel slightly nauseated or "cramped" but those feelings pass quickly. Images will then be taken of the gallbladder for another 25 minutes.

    Gastric Emptying Study

    The purpose of this exam is to evaluate how well your stomach empties. The Physician is looking for the half-emptying time or the time it takes the stomach to empty half of its contents. You will be given something to eat, scrambled eggs or oatmeal, that have a tasteless isotope mixed in the food. Then images will be taken by the Nuclear Medicine Technologist for 2 hours.

    Renal Scan

    The purpose of this exam is to evaluate the kidney function. Several aspects of kidney function can be evaluated and your exam will be done based on what your Physician wants. You do not have to be fasting for any of the exams. In fact, it is advisable to have plenty of fluids before the exam. You will be given an injection by the Nuclear Medicine Technologist and the images will be taken immediately. Any of these exams typically take 30 to 45 minutes to complete. You will be asked to lie flat on your back for the exam without getting up during the exam. One type of exam will require you having two sets of 30-minute images.

    Thyroid Scan

    The purpose of this exam it to evaluate the function of the thyroid gland. If you are on thyroid medications, you should not take these for 4 to 6 weeks prior to your exam. You should also not have any X-ray contrast for 3 to 4 weeks prior to this exam. You will be asked to come to the Nuclear Medicine Department in the AM to take a mildly radioactive capsule. You should be fasting 2 hours before and 2 hours after taking this capsule. You will be asked to return in the afternoon for images of the thyroid. When you return, your throat area will be positioned beneath the nuclear camera and images taken. This will take approximately 30 - 45 minutes. You will return 24 hours after taking the capsule and placed in front of another machine which will determine how much of the radioactive activity is remaining in the thyroid. This second day you will be in the Nuclear Medicine Department for approximately 10 minutes.