Nuclear Medicine is a medical specialty involving the administration of radioactive pharmaceuticals for the diagnosis of disease processes.
It is best at providing information of system function rather than pictorial anatomical images.
Radiopharmaceuticals (radioactive isotopes bound on to different pharmaceuticals) can be administered in a variety of ways by injection, inhaling or ingesting them.
The most common isotope for Nuclear Medicine imaging is Technetium 99m which has a half- life of 6 hours (this refers to the decay in activity which means that every 6 hours there is half as much as we started with) but we do use isotopes that have slightly longer half lives.
These tracers accumulate in the organ of interest where they emit gamma rays, these are then detected by equipment called a gamma camera giving us the information we require to help with diagnosis. The gamma camera resembles a CT scanner and is attached to a computer which gives quantitative and imaging data.
The scans we perform are very varied and they can take from a few minutes to hours or scanning over several days.
www.patient.co.uk provides some useful information on what to expect when attending a Nuclear medicine appointment.
Nuclear medicine is a specialist service and is only provided in the Brunel building at Southmead Hospital.
If you have received an appointment or have been referred for a scan you are welcome to contact the department and we will explain your procedure for you.
Please feel free to contact the Imaging Contact Centre if you would like to change your appointment time.
It is very important that you let us know if you cannot keep you appointment as we order the radioactive pharmaceuticals especially for you and they can be very expensive. If you do not then attend the isotope is wasted.