The Nuclear Medicine department performs tests and treatments using radioactive substances.

The team

What is a ‘scan’ in the nuclear medicine - isotopes department?

A radionuclide bone scan is called a scintigraphy. This is a procedure which involves introducing a minimal amount of a radioactive substance into the body to make images and/or assess the functioning of organs.

A gamma camera is used for this purpose. This scanner measures the administered radioactivity and makes images of it, but does not itself emit radiation.

Is the radiation dangerous?

The radioactive substances used have a short life span, disappear quickly from the body and do not cause allergic reactions. The amount of radiation is limited and is just enough to identify the cause of the pain or to investigate the disease.

What happens during the procedure?

The radioactive substance is usually administered via the blood (vein), sometimes by inhalation or in the form of a drink, a pill or food. Pictures can be taken immediately or at a later date.

In order to achieve the best recording quality, the gamma camera is brought as close as possible to the part of the body to be examined. During the image capture, you are allowed to breathe freely, but not allowed to move.

When taking full body shots or detailed shots from different angles, the camera will move.

How long do I have to wait between the injection and the examination?

The waiting time between the injection and the examination depends on the type of examination and usually varies from half an hour to three to four hours. If you have to wait for more than half an hour, feel free to leave the ward and go home.

How long the scan takes varies according to the type of examination (between 15 minutes and two hours). Some scans are spread over several sessions in one day or even over several days. The number of images does not affect the radiation load.

Last modified on 27 November 2023

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