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What are Nuclear scans (also called Radioisotope scans or Radionuclide scans)?:
Nuclear scans are medical imaging scans that utilize radioactive materials, specially designed cameras, and computers to see your body’s internal structures, and evaluate how effectively they’re functioning.
How nuclear scans work:
Patients are given a radioactive material, called a radiotracer or radiopharmaceutical, by injection, inhalation, or swallowing. This material concentrates in the area of the body being examined, and there, it gives off a small amount of energy. Using special cameras (gammas) that detect this energy, and computers to compile the images taken by the camera, specialists can create detailed pictures of a patient’s tissues and organs, and assess their function.
When are nuclear scans used:
Nuclear scans can help physicians detect cancer, infections, and injuries, as well as assess a person’s heart and lung function. The most common nuclear scans include:
Possible complications of nuclear scans:
Nuclear scans rarely cause any discomfort or side effects.
Possible complications of materials used to enhance nuclear scans:
As part of a nuclear scan, you will be given a radiotracer—a substance containing a small amount of radioactive material. It will help highlight areas your physician wishes to examine. Side effects vary by the way in which it’s administered:
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