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Nuclear medicine scans use a special camera (gamma) to take pictures of tissues and organs in the body after a radioactive tracer (radionuclide or radioisotope) is put in a vein in the arm and is absorbed by the tissues and organs. The radioactive tracer shows the activity and function of the tissues or organs. This scan is done at specialised Nuclear Scan centres.
Nuclear scans use radioactive substances to see structures and functions inside your body. They use a special camera that detects radioactivity.
Before the test, you receive a small amount of radioactive material. You may get it as an injection. Sometimes you swallow it or inhale it. Then you lie still on a table while the camera makes images. Most scans take 20 to 45 minutes.
Nuclear scans can help doctors diagnose many conditions, including cancers, injuries, and infections. They can also show how organs like your heart and lungs are working.
Nuclear medicine scans can help doctors find tumors and see how much the cancer has spread in the body (called the cancer’s stage). They may also be used to decide if treatment is working. These tests are painless and usually done as an outpatient procedure. The specific type of nuclear scan you’ll have depends on which organ the doctor wants to look into. Some of the nuclear medicine scans most commonly used for cancer (described in more detail further on) are: