Richmond Oncology
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Richmond Oncology
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Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine is the branch of medicine concerned with the use of radioisotopes in the diagnosis, management and treatment of disease. It uses small amounts of radiopharmaceuticals, substances that are attracted to specific organs, bones, or tissues, which emit gamma rays that can be detected externally by special types of cameras: gamma or PET cameras. These cameras work in conjunction with computers used to form images that provide data and information about the structure and functions of organs being imaged. The amount of radiation from a nuclear medicine procedure is comparable to that received during a diagnostic x-ray.

Isotope Bone Scan

An isotope bone scan is a test to find certain abnormalities in bone which are triggering the bone's attempts to heal. It is primarily used to help diagnose a number of conditions relating to bones, including: cancer of the bone or cancers that have spread (metastasized) to the bone, locating some sources of bone inflammation (e.g. bone pain such as lower back pain due to a fracture), the diagnosis of fractures that may not be visualize well in traditional x-ray images, and the detection of damage to bones due to certain infections and other problems.

PET Scanning

A PET scan is normally used alongside other tests such as an x-ray or MRI scan. Positron emission tomography (PET) uses very small amounts of radioactive glucose to produce 3D and cross-sectional images of the body. A radiologist will look at the images produced, and report the results to your doctor. A PET scan also has a simple CT scan performed at the same time to help pinpoint any abnormal areas seen on the PET scan.

Renal Scan

A renal scan reveals the size, position, shape, and function of the kidneys. It is particularly useful when a person is sensitive or allergic to the contrast (dye) material used in x-rays tests, or when they have reduced kidney function.

It may also be done on patients with high blood pressure to check kidney function.

Cardiothoracic Scan

Cardiac nuclear medicine is used to help diagnose cardiac disease. The symptoms include:

  • unexplained chest pain
  • chest pain brought on by exercise (called angina)

Cardiac nuclear medicine imaging is also performed:

  • To visualize blood flow patterns to the heart walls, called myocardial perfusion scan
  • to evaluate the presence and extent of suspected or known coronary artery disease
  • to determine the extent of injury to the heart following a heart attack, or myocardial infarction
  • to evaluate the results of bypass surgery or other revascularization procedures designed to restore blood supply to the heart
  • in conjunction with an electrocardiogram (ECG), to evaluate heart-wall movement and overall heart function with a technique called cardiac gating.

Lung Scan

A V/Q lung scan is an examination performed to detect pulmonary emboli (blood clots) within your lungs. The procedure consists of two parts. The first part assesses the airflow to the lungs, whilst the second part looks at the blood flow to the lungs.

Brain Scan

A DaTSCAN provides images of the brain. It is often used in patients who have a tremor or slowness of movement. There are 3 parts to this examination:

  • Firstly, you will be asked to swallow two small iodine tablets. Then we wait for one hour for these tablets to be absorbed
  • Secondly, you then have a small injection into your arm. After the injection we then have to wait once more. This time we have to wait for about 3˝ - 4 ˝ hours.
  • The third part of the test involves taking some pictures of the brain.


A thyroid scan investigates the function of the thyroid gland and gives information about its size, shape and position within the neck. To perform this test the patient is given a drink of clear fluid. Sometimes the test is performed using a small and simple injection.

Gastrointestinal Imaging: Is used to detect gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • SeHCAT: It is the most accurate scan available to assess and measure bile turnover in the intestine. It is used to investigate malabsorption
  • HIDA Liver/Gallbladder Ejection Fraction: is used to diagnose obstruction of the bile ducts (for example, by a gallstone or a tumor), disease of the gallbladder, and bile leaks
  • Meckel’s Scan: Used to identify Meckel’s diverticulum – an abnormal scan found in the lower part of the bowel that may cause a blockage or bleeding.

Nuclear Medicine Reporting Consultants

Richmond Oncology