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Nuclear Medicine

Preparation
Scheduling and Directions

DeKalb Medical performs a variety of inpatient and outpatient diagnostic procedures using nuclear medicine in Atlanta. Nuclear medicine procedures use very small amounts of radioactive materials and a special imaging machine to create and display a picture showing the condition of bone or other body organs. The nuclear medicine procedure is safe and painless. The radioactive material is introduced into your body orally or through an injection, and disappears from your system in one to two days. The nuclear medicine exams are useful in viewing the function of the bone, gallbladder, heart, liver or thyroid.

The most common exams that are performed in nuclear medicine in Atlanta at DeKalb Medical are:

Biliary Studies — to assess the function of the gallbladder.

Bone Scans — used to detect bone growth, fractures, tumors, infection of the bone and its blood supply.

Renal Studies — used to assess the anatomy, function and blood supply to the kidney.

Thyroid Studies — to examine the function of the thyroid gland which may be over or under active or enlarged.

Cardiac Studies — used to assess the blood flow to the heart and check for coronary artery disease.

Another type of nuclear medicine in Atlanta at DeKalb Medical involves a nuclear stress test, which may be performed to measure blood flow to your heart muscle at rest and during stress. This nuclear medicine test is performed similar to a routine exercise stress test but provides images in addition to electrocardiograms. This nuclear medicine test usually includes a heart scan, injection of the radioactive material while you are exercising and another scan one to two hours after exercise.

A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images from your nuclear medicine test and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician. Your primary care or referring physician will share the results of your nuclear medicine test with you.

Read More to learn about nuclear medicine.

Preparing for Your Nuclear Medicine Procedure

You should not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your nuclear medicine procedure. There are different preparation instructions depending on the type of scan you are having. You will be given specific instructions on what to do to prepare for your scan when your procedure is scheduled. The following general information will help you understand what to expect during your nuclear medicine procedure.

The first step in having a nuclear medicine procedure is for a radioactive isotope to be introduced into your body. This may be done in several ways:

  • Through an IV needle into a vein, usually in the hand or inside of the elbow.
  • Ingestion by swallowing a radioactive capsule or pill.
  • Subcutaneous which is just under the skin

Based on the type of nuclear medicine exam you are having, a certain period of time must pass after the isotope has gotten into your body. This is usually a few hours, although it can be one day for some exams. There are no side effects from the radioactive material that is in your body, and it is safe to be around other people.

You then will be taken into the exam room and asked to lie on a padded table that is guided under the camera. The technologist will position you to obtain a series of images. It is very important that you are completely still so the camera can obtain quality images for interpretation.

The average imaging time is usually less than one hour, although some nuclear medicine tests require more than an hour and, in some cases, more than one visit.

After Your Nuclear Medicine Procedure

As soon as the images have been reviewed by the technologist for quality you can leave and resume your normal activities and diet as directed by your physician.

The radiologist who performed your nuclear medicine procedure will advise your physician as to the finding of the test. Your physician will follow up with you about the results of your nuclear medicine procedure.

Scheduling and Directions

Your physician will contact DeKalb Medical to schedule your nuclear medicine procedure for you. If your physician has placed the medical orders for your specific procedure, you can call 404.501.2660 to schedule your procedure at your convenience.

If your procedure is at DeKalb Medical at North Decatur, go to the hospital’s central registration area.

  • From North Decatur Road, enter the hospital campus via Wash Lively Road.
  • At road end, turn right. (Note: If you are in a wheelchair or need to be dropped off at the entrance, turn left and proceed to the Central Registration patient drop-off which is on the right just past the main hospital entrance. Your driver should then turn around and continue to the Visitor/Patient parking deck.)
  • At stop sign, turn left and park in the Visitor/Patient parking deck.
  • Take any elevator or stairs to the 3rd level.
  • Proceed to the Pedestrian Bridge to the hospital.
  • Take bridge straight ahead to the escalators.
  • Take escalators down one level.
  • Once off escalators, turn right and immediately left and follow the directions to the hospital main lobby.
  • Proceed past the hospital Gift Shop on your right.
  • Once in the main lobby, follow the hallway to Central Registration.
  • At the end of hallway, turn left.
  • Central Registration is on the right.

If your nuclear medicine procedure will be performed at the Imaging Center at DeKalb Medical at North Decatur,

  • From North Decatur Road, enter the hospital campus via Wash Lively Road.
  • The Diagnostic Imaging Center is on the left.
  • Parking is on the left in front of the center and is free for all Imaging Center patients.

If your procedure is being performed at DeKalb Medical at Hillandale, go to the hospital’s registration area.

  • Park in the hospital parking lot.
  • Proceed to the main entrance of the hospital.
  • Registration is directly on the right – you must register before proceeding to the Imaging Department.
  • When you have completed registration, a staff member will direct you to the Imaging Department for your nuclear medicine procedure.

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