At Intermountain Healthcare, we know that Comfort Matters, even when you may not be visiting one of our facilities under the best of circumstances. The Intermountain Imaging Services team will do everything we can to make sure you are as comfortable as possible during your nuclear medicine test.  If you're cold during the test, we'll get you a warm blanket.  If you don't understand an instruction, we'll stop and gently explain it to you.  From the time you schedule your imaging test to the time you receive your results, we want your experience with Intermountain Imaging Services to be a comfortable one. 

How long will it take?

A nuclear medicine procedure can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours, and can be conducted over several days, depending on the type of study.

What happens during the test?

  • The injection. Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam you are undergoing, you may be given a dose of radiotracer that is injected through an IV, swallowed, or inhaled as a gas.  This radiotracer is specially designed to collect in the organ or area being studied.  Depending on the reason your doctor has ordered the scan, images of the injection may be taken immediately or after enough time has passed to allow the tracers to circulate and be absorbed by your body — generally 2 to 4 hours.  You may be allowed to leave the radiology department during this time.
  • The scan.  When it is time for your exam to begin, the camera will take several images.  You may be asked to change positions, or the camera may rotate around you.  While the camera is taking pictures, you will need to remain still.
What happens after the test?

A radiologist, a doctor with special training in reading the results of nuclear medicine scans and other imaging tests, will analyze the images and send a report to your doctor.  Your doctor will tell you the results, usually in a follow-up appointment.  The information gained during the nuclear medicine test will help your doctor diagnose your condition and choose the best treatment.

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