Nuclear medicine is a specialized area of radiology that can help diagnose and treat various conditions, such as tumors, infections, hematomas, organ enlargement, and cysts, by using very small amounts of radioactive materials called radiopharmaceuticals. The dose of radiation is very low and is not harmful.
Nuclear medicine may be used to treat hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer, and lymphomas and provide treatment options for other complex cancerous conditions, including prostate cancer that has spread to the bones and stage IV colon cancer that has spread to the liver.
WVU Medicine is recognized for the highest level of imaging quality and patient safety by the American College of Radiology in nuclear medicine. Our caring, knowledgeable, and experienced technologists are all board and state certified experts in their fields.
Imaging We Offer
WVU Medicine Imaging Services offers nuclear medicine scans to diagnose many medical conditions and diseases, including:
- Bone scans
- Brain/neurological imaging
- Cardiac ejection fraction
- Gastrointestinal studies
- Heart scans
- Hepatobiliary scans
- Infection imaging
- PET-CT scan
- Renal scans
- Thyroid scans
- Tumor imaging/localization
What to expect
Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam you’re having, radiopharmaceuticals will be injected intravenously, swallowed, or inhaled as a gas. Except for intravenous injections, most nuclear medicine procedures are painless and are rarely associated with significant discomfort or side effects.
It can take anywhere from a few seconds to several days for the radiotracer to travel through the body and accumulate in the organ or area of the body being studied. Your imaging test may be performed immediately, a few hours later, or even several days after you’ve received the radiopharmaceuticals.
When it’s time for the imaging to begin, the radiopharmaceuticals emit a very small amount of radiation that’s detected by the camera. The scanner takes a series of images and may rotate around you while you lie in one position. You may be asked to change positions in between images. You’ll need to remain as still as possible during the exam, so that clear, accurate images may be captured. The length of time for nuclear medicine imaging varies widely, depending on the type of exam. Actual scanning can take 20 minutes to several hours or may be conducted over several days.
Once your nuclear medicine procedure is complete, the images will be reviewed by a board-certified radiologist. Your doctor will receive an electronic copy of the imaging report and notify you with the results. To communicate easily and securely with your WVU Medicine provider, sign up for our free patient portal, MyWVUChart.