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Nuclear Medicine

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Nuclear medicine imaging uses very small amounts of radioactive materials, called radiotracers or radiopharmaceuticals, to diagnose and treat disease.

It can detect abnormalities much earlier in the onset of disease than other kinds of tests. The procedures are safe, painless, and cost effective.

Nuclear medicine is commonly used to diagnose:
  • Cancer
  • Neurological problems
    • Alzheimer's Disease
    • Parkinson's Disease
    • Epilepsy
    • Stroke
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Liver/Gallbladder disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Bone problems
    • Fractures
    • Arthritis
    • Osteoporosis

Nuclear medicine imaging is currently offered at Hunt Regional Medical Center in Greenville (2nd floor). To reach our Imaging and Radiology Department for more information, please call 903-408-5010.

Continue below to learn about the types of nuclear medicine used to detect cardiovascular and bone problems, including what to expect during each test. You can also explore related services by visiting our main Imaging and Radiology page.

Nuclear Cardiology

A nuclear stress test allows your doctor to evaluate your heart function. An exercise stress test may be performed on a treadmill, or your doctor may order a test that uses medication to mimic the effects of exercise on the heart.

woman undergoing stress testYou will be asked not to eat or drink for several hours before the exam. You may be asked to stop taking some kinds of medications before the test. A small amount of a medication (tagged with a tiny amount of radiation) will be injected into a vein to make the blood flow in your heart visible to the special camera used for this test. ECG (electrocardiogram) electrodes will be attached to your body to monitor your heart rate.

Two sets of images will be taken to show your heart at rest and under stress. Each set of images will take 15-30 minutes. Be sure to let the person performing the test know if you experience chest pain, palpitation, shortness of breath, or any other symptoms during the exam.

The results of your nuclear cardiology exam will be read by a physician experienced in interpreting this type of test result. Your doctor will receive a copy of the report.

Nuclear Medicine Bone Scans

A small amount of a medication (tagged with a tiny amount of radiation), which your body uses like calcium, allows the nuclear bone scan to determine how much calcium is absorbed by each part of the skeleton. Sick and injured bones tend to take up more calcium as they work to repair themselves.

You may eat and drink normally before the exam. When you report for your scan, the tagged medication will be injected. It will not make you sick or sleepy. The amount of radiation it contains is roughly equivalent to the exposure from common X-rays. It has no side effects.

It takes two hours for the medication to be absorbed by your bones. You may leave the hospital during this waiting period but it is vital that you return on time for the test to be valid. The exam takes about 1 hour.

The radiologist will interpret your bone scan and report to your doctor.

For more information related to bone exams, visit our section on osteoporosis and bone density testing.