Nuclear Medicine

Specialized internal imaging

Nuclear Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham

Nuclear medicine is a specialized type of imaging that works differently than other types of diagnostic scans. It uses radioactive material to create high-quality, clear pictures of how your organs look and work. At Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham, our imaging specialists are experts at using nuclear medicine to diagnose your health problem.

Why BID Needham?

Our department is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR). That means our imaging specialists are nuclear medicine experts. We capture the well-defined pictures your provider needs to give you an accurate diagnosis and up-to-date, timely care. In addition, each of our imaging technologists — the staff members who complete your scan — have the necessary training, experience and specific credentials to perform nuclear medicine scans.

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear medicine works differently from other types of imaging, such as CT and X-ray. With CT scans and X-rays, radiation from a scanner passes through your body. Nuclear medicine does the opposite.

Typically, patients receive a tiny injection of radioactive material, called radiotracers. This material is absorbed by certain areas of the body. A machine called a gamma camera detects radiation in places where you may have a problem, such as difficulties with blood flow.

When Might You Need a Nuclear Medicine Test?

At BID Needham, we use nuclear medicine tests to diagnose and treat many illnesses and conditions. This procedure is effective for diagnostic evaluations in these areas:

What Can You Expect from a Nuclear Medicine Test?

How you prepare for your nuclear medicine test depends on the type of scan you need. Our staff will walk you through how to get ready and we’ll answer all your questions. We’ll also ask if you have any allergies or have had problems with nuclear medicine tests before.

For most tests, you’ll receive the radioactive material within a few minutes, or sometimes a few hours, before your scan.

What Happens During and After a Nuclear Medicine Test?

Most nuclear medicine tests take between 30 to 60 minutes. Some, like nuclear bone scans, can last up to two hours.

During the test, you’ll lie on a padded table under the gamma camera. The camera detects the radiation and takes pictures at a constant rate. You will need to lie as still as possible so the pictures aren’t blurry.

After the test, you’ll need to drink a lot of water to start flushing the radiotracer from your body. It will naturally decay and leave your body through urine and stool within a few hours to a few days. To limit any extra exposure to radiation, close the lid and flush the toilet immediately after using the bathroom.

How Will You Get Your Images?

Your images will be added to your electronic medical record after our imaging specialist has reviewed them. We will share these images with the physician who ordered your test.

Services & Specialties

If your provider recommends diagnostic imaging as part of your care, our experts are here to help. We work closely with other specialists at BID Needham to ensure you get the care you need as quickly as possible.