nuclear medicine

Offered at: Aurora and Vaughan clinics.

What is nuclear medicine?

Nuclear Medicine utilizes very small amounts of radioactive material ("radiotracers") to generate diagnostic images of various parts of the body. These radiotracers are injected into the body and give off energy detected by a special device called a gamma camera. Anatomical and functional images of the body are then generated and saved.

Cardiac nuclear medicine is used to assess the anatomy and function of your heart. Specifically, this test may be used to investigate chest pain, evaluate the presence and extent of coronary artery disease, determine the function of the heart muscle ("myocardium"), and evaluate the results of bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty/stents.

Our nuclear medicine department offers fully equipped cardiac stress room. The test will be performed and reported by certified staff.

How do I prepare for a nuclear medicine examination?

  • All Nuclear Medicine studies require appointments
Cardiac Nuclear Medicine
  • Do not eat or drink (except water) for 4 hours prior to the test. Diabetic patients may have a little juice as needed
  • No coffee, tea, Cola drinks, or chocolate for 48h prior to the test
  • Please wear comfortable clothes and walking or running shoes for the stress test (treadmill)
  • If you take any medication, please consult with your doctor if you need to discontinue use before test
Hepatobiliary Scan
  • Nothing by mouth for 4 hrs prior to your appointment
Meckel’s Scan
  • Nothing by mouth after midnight
Renal Scan
  • Drink 3-4 glasses of water prior to arrival.  Voiding is permitted
Bone Scan, Brain, Liver, Lung, Muga, Salivary
  • No special preparation is necessary

How is a Nuclear Cardiology (Sestamibi) study performed?

The examination is performed in two parts:

  1. Exercise or Stress Test - An IV (intravenous) is placed in your arm and ECG leads will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rate. You will then be asked to walk on a treadmill to elevate your heart rate to a specified target. At this point a small amount of radioactive material will be injected into the IV. After a 30-60 minute wait you will be asked to lie down on the examination table where the camera will rotate around your body and take several pictures of your heart.

    NOTE: If you are unable to walk on the treadmill you may be given a drug instead which simulates exercise
  2. Rest Test - This part will be performed a few days or hours after the exercise test and may require another injection of the same radioactive material. You may leave upon completion of the test. There should be no change to your daily activity. The radioactive material will mostly be eliminated from your body in your urine or stool. The remainder disappears through natural decay over time.

How are other nuclear medicine studies performed?

Each test has a slightly different protocol.

Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam you are undergoing, the dose of radiotracer is then injected intravenously, swallowed by mouth or inhaled as a gas. When the radiotracer has accumulated in the organ or area being studied (this can take anywhere from a few seconds to days), images will be obtained using a gamma camera.

The length of time for the study varies greatly, depending on the exam. Please contact us for specific details.