Queensland Diagnostic Imaging

Nuclear Medicine

What is nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear Medicine is a medical imaging technique that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and treat disease. A gamma camera detects the radiation emitted by this radioactive material, projecting a two or three-dimensional image.

Nuclear Medicine tests are very sensitive, providing unique information that X-rays and ultrasounds cannot.

What is Nuclear Medicine used to diagnose or treat?

Nuclear Medicine is used for a wide range of tests, procedures and treatments, including:

  • Cerebral perfusion study
  • Iodine-131 therapy
  • MIBG scan
  • Bone scan
  • Cardiac stress test
  • DMSA (dimercaptosuccinic acid) scan
  • Gated blood pool scan
  • Renal scan
  • Thyroid scan
  • Octreotide scan
  • Parathyroid MIBI scan
  • PET (positron emission tomography) scan
  • SPECT-CT (single photon emission computed tomography) scan
  • VQ (ventilation perfusion) scan
  • Whole body MIBI myeloma scan.

How long does it take?

Nuclear Medicine scans require varying amounts of time. Some tests take 30 minutes while others are several hours long or spread across a day or multiple days. You may be required to visit several times to complete the examination.

How should I prepare?

Preparation for a nuclear medicine exam depends on the area of the body being scanned and the individual study. You will be given preparation instructions at the time of booking.

You should let us know when you make the appointment:

  • if you’re breastfeeding, pregnant or may possibly be pregnant
  • what medication (including herbal supplements and vitamins) you’ve been taking
  • if you have any recent illnesses, medical conditions or allergies.

Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment so that any paperwork can be completed.

What can I expect during Nuclear Medicine imaging

You may be required to remove items like jewellery, coins, keys, belts and/or change into a patient gown.

Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam, a dose of radioactive material will be injected intravenously, swallowed or inhaled as a gas. It can take several seconds to several days for the radiotracer in this material to accumulate in the area being studied.

Your Nuclear Medicine Technician will direct you into the required positions to obtain the best images. You will need to stay still when requested. The gamma camera may be positioned very close to your body but will not touch you.

When the examination is complete, you may be asked to wait while the technician checks the images to decide whether additional scanning is required.

What will I experience during the procedure?

Most Nuclear Medicine procedures are painless and cause few side effects. While the scan causes no pain, you may feel some discomfort from remaining still and in a particular position for a length of time.

What will it cost?

A Medicare rebate and health fund benefit may apply for these examinations. If there’s an out-of-pocket expense, we’ll let you know when you book your appointment.

When will I get the results?

We will prepare a report for your doctor or health practitioner and send it electronically within 24 – 48 hours. You should make an appointment with your referring doctor to receive and talk about your test results.

What happens to the radioactive material in my body?

Radioactive material will naturally decay and pass out of your body through urine or stools within a few hours or days following the test. You should drink plenty of water to help flush the material out of your body.

What are the risks of Nuclear Medicine?

There are minimal risks associated with having a nuclear medicine scan. At QDI, Nuclear Medicine imaging is only performed where it is deemed the benefit will outweigh any potential risks.

In some rare cases, patients may experience an allergic reaction to the radioactive material.

Appointment Preparation
  • Follow preparations advised at the time of booking appointment.
  • Quoted fees payable at the completion of your appointment.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment.

For more details on what to bring, payment & results click below:

Where can I have Nuclear Medicine imaging?

QDI performs Nuclear Medicine exams at a number of clinics:

QDI St Vincent’s Private Hospital Northside Chermside, QLD
Kawana Medical Imaging Birtinya, Sunshine Coast