Nuclear medicine tests are a pain-free and non-surgical way for physicians to determine the cause of a medical condition, including heart disease, cancer and brain function. Preparation for these tests can vary; it’s best to check with your physician if you have questions about how to prepare. The tests require a physician order. Please be sure to bring it with you.
Equipment and Procedures
Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center • GE Hawkeye SPECT / CT camera
Conemaugh Miners Medical Center • GE Millenium
Conemaugh Meyersdale Medical Center • Mobile Service
Conemaugh Nason Medical Center • Siemens Symbia E
Conemaugh Medical Park • Outpatient cardiac lab, GE Ventri dedicated cardiac cameras
Conemaugh East Hills • GE Discovery 670 nuclear medicine SPECT/CT
Conemaugh Ebensburg • Mobile Service
Full array of nuclear medicine diagnostic imaging including nuclear cardiology. Therapeutic procedures including I-131 thyroid treatments, Ra223 Radium for prostate cancer, and emerging radiopharmaceutical therapeutics.
Preparation for Scan
Our physicians and technologists are dedicated to providing highly skilled and compassionate care for you and your family. We understand that you may be apprehensive about your test. We hope the following information will be helpful to you as you prepare for your diagnostic test
There are several locations where you can have your Nuclear Medicine exam performed. At the MMC Main Campus it is located on the 3rd floor of the main building. At the Lee Campus the Nuclear Medicine department is on the 1st floor.
We want to make the experience as comfortable as possible. If you have any questions or concerns that are not answered here, please do not hesitate to call your physician or Nuclear Medicine Department at (814) 534-9574 between 7:00 AM and 4:30 PM.
Before the Scan
Your physician’s office will schedule the date and time of your appointment with Central Scheduling. They will instruct you on any special preparations, which vary depending on the type of test, and what time to arrive at the hospital. If you can’t remember the preparation involved or when you are scheduled please call your physician or the Radiology Department at (814) 534-9166 between 7:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
If you have questions about your insurance coverage or pre-certification, call your insurance company. If you are not covered by insurance, please make arrangements for payment by calling the business office at (814) 410-8470.
You may need to fast or take in nothing by mouth for 4 to 12 hours before your test. If your physician or scheduler tells you to take your routine medicine, take it only with a small sip of water.
Nuclear Medicine procedures expose you to small amounts of short-lived radioactive material. If you are pregnant or think you might be, or if you are breast-feeding, tell the doctor and technologist before your test.
If you develop a cough, cold, abnormal temperature, sore throat or flu-like symptoms, or if you come in contact with anyone suffering from measles, chickenpox or any other communicable disease within 2 weeks prior to your scan, please call your physician. It may be necessary to reschedule your scan for a time when you are feeling better.
The Day of your Scan
Wear loose fitting, clean, comfortable clothing and flat shoes.
Children under 18 years of age or incapacitated adults must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. You may be accompanied by one adult family member or friend. Children should not accompany adults having any procedures.
Please bring any order that your physicians office provided for you. If you were not contacted by pre-certification please bring your identification and insurance cards.
Please bring a list of your medicines, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal drugs. Also bring a list of allergies to food, latex, or medicine.
Parking is available in the parking lots outside of the buildings at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, Main Campus. You can park in the garage on Franklin Street or use the valet at the Main Entrance on Franklin Street. Please bring your parking ticket with you to receive a token for free parking in the garage. At the Lee Campus you can park in the garage on Walnut Street. Please remember to bring your ticket with you to receive a rebate ticket for free parking in the garage. You will need to take both tickets back to the garage on the first floor. First you will need to put your parking ticket in the machine and then the rebate ticket. You will be given another ticket to exit the garage.
When you arrive at the hospital on the day of your procedure, check in at the Outpatient Registration desk. At the Main Campus it is to the left in the main lobby on the first floor. If you are going to the Lee Campus the Outpatient Registration Desk is in the main lobby. You will be registered and then escorted to the Nuclear Medicine department waiting area. Once there you will sign in at the desk. You may be asked to change into a gown.
Healthcare professionals will be available in this area to make you comfortable and to answer your questions. Your safety is our number one priority.
The staff may ask you the same questions several times; they will ask your name, birth date, what procedure you are having done, your medications, and your allergies. By repeating our questions, we are verifying and re-verifying very important information to ensure that your time with us is as safe as possible.
Preparing for the Scan
The people around you in the room will be preparing for your procedure. The technologist will explain everything that is happening.
You may be positioned on an examination table. If necessary, a technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm.
Before having a nuclear medicine procedure performed, patients are given a radioactive material called an isotope. Isotopes can be injected intravenously, inhaled as a gas, or swallowed by mouth in liquid or capsule form. Once the isotope is inside the body, it travels to the target organs or tissues and gives off gamma rays. It can take several seconds to several days for the radiotracer to travel through your body and accumulate in the organ or area being studied. As a result, imaging may be done immediately, a few hours later, or even several days after you have received the radioactive material.
Once the isotope is at the target area, images are then taken of the body with special equipment that can detect the gamma rays. These images are interpreted by a radiologist with special training in nuclear medicine.
You can generally leave the department between parts of the test with the exception of cardiac stress tests.
Special Equipment Used
Various types of equipment are used for nuclear medicine studies depending on the procedure, we use probes, stationary gamma cameras, and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) cameras.
Nuclear medicine probes are a small device that looks like long metal tubes. They can take images of the body by being waved over the patient. It can detect and measure the amount of the radiotracer in a small area of your body. Nuclear medicine probes are not inserted into the body and usually do not come in direct contact with the skin. These are used to evaluate your thyroid.
Stationary gamma cameras are attached to a tall unit and positioned very close to the area being studied.
SPECT cameras can rotate around the patient to take the images. Most Nuclear Medicine procedures use a gamma camera, a specialized device that is capable of detecting radiation and taking pictures from different angles. The camera is located within a large, doughnut-shaped scanner similar in appearance to a (CT) scanner. You will be asked to lie on a special table that is part of the camera system. The technologist will help you get comfortable with a pillow for your head, and one under your knees. We try to make it as comfortable as possible for you so that you are able to lie still while we do the scan. Most procedures will take 30 minutes or longer.
A nearby computer aids in creating the images from the data obtained by the camera or scanner.
There is no equipment used during radioactive iodine therapy.
Types Of Nuclear Medicine Studies
Brain exams are performed on patients who have seizures, severe headaches, or who have suffered a stroke. Before your brain exam, you will be asked if you are allergic to iodine. You may be given a blocking agent to make sure that other organs do not absorb the isotope. Next, a registered nuclear medicine technologist will administer an isotope injection and then position you for the exam. For about three minutes, you will be asked to stay completely still while the camera exams your brain. After this exam is complete, another exam will be performed up to two hours later. This exam will take a half an hour.
Thyroid exams typically take two days. In the weeks before the study, you may not be allowed to eat certain foods or take certain medications. On the first day of the study, you will swallow the isotope in liquid or capsule form and be asked to return in 6 hours, at this time your thyroid will be examined using the probe, which will detect how much of the isotope has been absorbed by the thyroid gland. Second, your thyroid will be examined with the gamma camera to assess its condition and ability to function. The two parts of the procedure will last a total of an hour. You will be asked to return the next day for a quick 5 minute reading from your thyroid using the probe. Some thyroid exams deviate slightly from this and those details are communicated when the exam is scheduled.
Cardiac exams are performed to study various aspects of how the heart functions. They can show damage, blood flow, and the heart’s general condition. The most common cardiac exam is called a stress test. Before a stress test, you may be asked to avoid food and water. During the study, the heart is first examined at a resting rate with the SPECT camera. Next, the heart is examined after you have walked on a treadmill or received a medication to simulate exercise conditions. This shows if there is any change in the perfusion of blood to the heart muscle during stress conditions.
A lung exam shows how blood flows through the lungs or how the lungs absorb oxygen. If you are having a lung exam to assess blood flow through the lungs, you will receive an isotope injection the day of your study. Then your lungs will be examined using the gamma camera. This study will take approximately a half an hour.
Exams studying the supply of oxygen to the lungs do not require preparation. Before you are examined by the gamma camera, the technologist will instruct you on how to breathe. After the technologist positions you in front of the camera, a mask will be placed over your face. The mask will release a tasteless isotope which you will inhale. In just a few minutes, the gamma camera will record pictures of the lungs and how the isotope is distributed inside them.
Nuclear studies of the kidney are ideal for visualizing tumors, cysts, blockages, and other conditions. You should drink plenty of water prior to the exam, you will be asked to empty your bladder prior to the exam. During the kidney exam, the isotope will be administered intravenously and you will lie on a special imaging table while a gamma camera records images from underneath the table. A kidney exam typically takes an hour.
A gallbladder exam is used to evaluate the function of your hepatobiliary system. Before your gallbladder exam, you will be asked to fast for four hours. Next, the technologist will inject an isotope and you will be positioned under the gamma camera. Images of the gallbladder will be taken over a one- to four-hour period.
A nuclear medicine study of the liver reveals certain conditions such as cirrhosis or cysts, or assesses its general ability to function. During your exam, an isotope will be injected by the technologist, who will position you under the gamma or SPECT camera. Pictures of the liver will be taken for about a half an hour.
A bone exam requires no fasting and is used to detect conditions of the bones, including tumors and arthritis. Three hours before your bone exam, you will receive an isotope by intravenous injection. Leading up to the study, you may be instructed to drink several glasses of water and to empty your bladder. This will eliminate any of the isotope not absorbed by the bones. Bone exams can take up to an hour.
After the Scan
When your scan is over, the technologist will help you off the table. If you had a change in diet before the scan, you may resume your normal diet. Most nuclear medicine studies do not have any special post exam instructions.
Your time in the nuclear medicine department will vary between 5 minutes to several hours per test depending on the procedure you are having done. You can leave immediately after your test.
A doctor who is a radiologist will study your scans and report the results to your doctor. Your doctor will generally discuss the results with you at your next physician’s office visit. Talk with your doctor or testing center about how to get your test results.
If your testing was ordered STAT by your physician, a preliminary report will be phoned or faxed to them shortly after the completion of your test.
Thank-you for allowing us to take care of you during your nuclear medicine study.
Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center - Main Campus
1086 Franklin Street
Johnstown, PA 15905
Phone: (814) 534-9127
Monday - Friday, 7 am - 5 pm
Conemaugh Meyersdale Medical Center
200 Hospital Drive
Phone: (814) 972-6970, call to schedule appointment
Cardiac - Thursday, 7 am - 5 pm
General - Every other Monday, 7 am - 5 pm
Conemaugh Miners Medical Center
290 Haida Avenue
Phone: (814) 247-3300, call to schedule appointment
Monday - Friday, 7 am - 2:30 pm
Conemaugh Nason Medical Center
105 Nason Drive
Roaring Spring, PA
Phone: (814) 224-2141
Monday - Friday, 7 am - 3 pm
Conemaugh Medical Park
One Tech Park Road
Phone: (814) 475-8718
Monday - Friday, 7 am - 3 pm
Stress test only