There are a wide variety of nuclear medicine scans performed and the preparation varies with each one. It is important that you follow the instructions given to you for your specific procedure. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or if there is a possibility that you may be pregnant, you must inform the technologist before the test has started.
Your blue UHN card can be used at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital. If your appointment is at Mount Sinai Hospital or Women's College Hospital, you will need to allow extra time before your appointment to get a card for that hospital. You do not need a blue UHN card at Toronto Rehab sites.
Upon arriving in the Nuclear Medicine department, a radiopharmaceutical will be introduced into your body. This is most commonly done by injection but can also be inhaled or ingested depending on the organ system of interest to your physician. The injections are not painful and there is very little risk of a reaction.
Once the radiopharmaceutical concentrates into the organ of interest, a gamma camera is used to scan your body. The scan is showing the functional capacity of your organ rather than anatomical aspect like an x-ray.
It's important you remain still while the pictures are being taken. Though the scan itself causes no pain, some people find it uncomfortable to stay in one position for a period of time (usually between 30 and 90 minutes). Scanning may be done over several days. This is dependent on the type of scan required and the radiopharmaceutical injected.
If you're claustrophobic, please tell a staff person before you're given the tracer.
Once the imaging is complete, a Nuclear Medicine Radiologist will review the images obtained and provide your doctor with a written report.
Please keep in mind the technologist can't give you the results when your scan is finished.