What are Nuclear Medicine Tests?

Also known as: nuclear medicine studies.

Nuclear medicine is a type of imaging that uses small, safe amounts of radioactive medicine to diagnose, treat and track the treatment of diseases. Nuclear medicine tests specifically show any changes that may be taking place inside the body.

There are several types of nuclear medicine scans. All of these scans use radioactive medicine, administered either by mouth or by injection, depending on the part of the body needed to photograph.

For example, if your child is receiving a scan of the stomach for a gastric reflux or gastric emptying study, the child will be instructed to take the radioisotope by mouth.

  • If your child is receiving a scan of the bones, thyroid, or kidneys, the child will be administered the isotope via injection with numbing medication.
  • The scans are not painful and may take up to a few minutes to a few hours to complete, depending on the type of test.
  • To get the best results, your child will be asked to hold still during the test. 
  • Children are able to complete the scans without sedation for most of the tests. If for any reason your child may need extra help holding still, your child can be rescheduled at a later time under sedation or general anesthesia.

All nuclear scans require an advance appointment. Instructions are given at that time for the individualized specific preparation for your child.

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Pediatric Nuclear Medicine studies offered include:

  • Brain and CSF studies
  • Thyroid studies
  • Pulmonary studies
  • Cardiovascular studies
  • Gastrointestinal studies
  • Splenic scintigraphy
  • Genitourinary studies
  • Skeletal scintigraphy
  • Scintigraphy of infection
  • Tumor scintigraphy
  • Lymphoscintigraphy

The Latest Technology

The Department of Radiology at Nicklaus Children's Hospital has two gamma cameras dedicated to pediatric applications. One camera is a triple headed gamma camera which has specific neuroimaging and tumor imaging capabilities not utilized anywhere else in Miami for pediatric patients. This includes ictal SPECT imaging for delineation of epileptogenic foci with a dedicated neurological unit and video EEG monitoring.

Using oncologic agents such as I123 MIBG (which seeks out neuroendocrine tumors), Nicklaus Children's Hospital is the only free-standing, non-University hospital offering this nuclear scan and the only site south of Boston.

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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