A Picture of Health

Nuclear medicine can help diagnose a wide range of diseases and disorders, by using a gamma camera to produce images of the body. A technique known as Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography rotates the camera around the patient to create a three-dimensional image.

How Nuclear Medicine Works

The gamma camera is basically a giant Geiger counter. The patient is given an injection of a substance that gives off mild radiation from inside the body. The camera records varying radiation levels, and a computer generates images of the patient’s body. 

This technique can be adapted for a wide variety of tests and studies to examine the body and detect disease. 

Preparing for Your Nuclear Medicine Exam

Different kinds of nuclear medicine exams need different kinds of preparation. Ask your doctor’s office what preparations are necessary for your particular exam.
Let our staff know what medications you take, including non-prescription medicines and supplements. Let us know if you could be pregnant or are breast feeding. 
Here are some common exams, with general information about preparing for them:

Bone Scan – No prep.

Cardiac Scans – In most cases, you’ll need to avoid eating and drinking for six hours before the exam. (Let us know if you are diabetic.)  No caffeine or beta blockers for 24 hours before the exam.  No products containing nicotine for four hours before the exam, and no nitroglycerine for two hours before the exam.
Gastric Emptying – You’ll be given a test meal of radioactive eggs with toast, jelly, and water.
Liver – No prep.
Lung – No prep.
Thyroid Uptake & Scan – Nothing to eat or drink after midnight.
If you have any questions, please check with your doctor’s office, or phone one of our imaging technologists at (541) 269-8090.

What to Expect

Your nuclear medicine exam begins with a stop at the Medical Imaging office, where you’ll check in and be given a wristband. Next you’ll meet with a Nuclear Medicine Technologist, who will ask you about your medical history.
Before your exam, you’ll be asked to empty your pockets of change, cell phones, and any other metal. You’ll need to remove our belt buckle. You generally will be able to wear your regular clothes during the scan, unless you’re wearing metal buttons or snaps.
Next you’ll lie on your back on a sliding bed. You’ll lie still as the bed slowly passes under the gamma camera to scan your body. 
The length of this procedure depends on what kind of test your doctor ordered. For the simplest tests, you may spend as little as 18 minutes under the camera. Or you could need a series of visits lasting as long as two hours each, over a period of three to four days.
When you’re finished, the technologist will process the image and a radiologist will interpret (or “read”) it. Your physician will explain the results to you.

Technology and Professionalism

Bay Area Hospital boasts the Oregon coast’s largest nuclear medicine department, serving more than 1,600 patients annually. Our dual-head gamma cameras use proven technology to deliver images with clarity and reliability.
Our nuclear medicine technologists have degrees in nuclear medical technology, backed up with mandatory continuing education. All are state-licensed and nationally certified through the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.


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