As it is only natural for you to have questions, we hope to answer some of them with the following list of FAQs. If you haven’t found the answer to your question in the list, please, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at +421 2 20670 176, +421 2 20670 187. We are ready to answer any of your questions.
Nuclear medicine is a specialised medical field that uses radioactive tracers in form of radiopharmaceuticals, usually administered intravenously in the forearm, in order to diagnose and treat diseases.
Radiopharmaceutical is a special pharmaceutical product marked with a suitable radioactive material (radionuclide) that is absorbed in the examined organ and enables its imaging.
Scintigraphy = gammagraphy is a method of patient examination. As for the detection, gammagraphy uses gamma radiation, while scintigraphy uses scintillation detector.
A gamma camera is an examination device. It has two detectors located under and above the examination table (bed), where the patient is lying. It is a scintillation detector that detects the gamma rays emitting from the patient.
It is a whole-body examination, where two detectors continually move above and under the patient lying on an examination table and scan images of the bones of the whole body.
SPECT – Single Photon Emission Computer Tomography = is an examination method that provides a three-dimensional image of the examined organ and shows the organ in various cross-sections. It allows for a more sensitive and precise imaging of the smaller focal points of disease.
Contamination happens when the patient’s clothing or skin are contaminated by the applied radiopharmaceutical, a tampon applied to the injection site or placed in a trouser pocket, or by urine due to an inadvertent lack of attention during urination. Such contamination causes false-positive detection and may complicate the interpretation of the results. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to repeat the imaging after the patient’s contaminated clothing has been removed or after the patient’s contaminated skin has been washed.
It describes additional images that are targeted on a particular area with the aim to get a more precise image. This may concern lateral, oblique, or other specific images that usually take 2 – 5 minutes.
During the examination, a small amount of radiopharmaceutical is injected into a vein (usually into the vein in the forearm). This radiopharmaceutical is absorbed by the examined organ. The radioactive material emits gamma rays from the examined organ, and those are detected by the detector of the gamma camera. The goal of the examination is to display the size, shape, location and spread of radioactivity in this organ or the functioning of this organ.
Metal objects on the patient’s body absorb the radiation and therefore cause a misinterpretation of the results.
The only part of the examination that could be considered “painful” is the injection into the vein, which is equal to the discomfort felt at a regular blood sampling. For some patients, it may feel uncomfortable to lie calmly on the examination table without any movement for about 30 minutes. If you are otherwise in pain, you shall use a pain reliever before the examination.
It is not. The amount of radiation that the patient receives is very small, comparable or in most cases several times smaller than the radiation used in regular X-ray exams. Accordingly, children also receive a smaller amount of radiopharmaceuticals based on their weight. We perform examinations on small children and newborns as well.
Complications related to the administration of radiopharmaceuticals are practically non-existent and to date, we have not recorded any complications at our facility. Some rare cases of allergic reaction can be found in medical literature. Please, inform the doctor before the administration of the radiopharmaceutical, in case you have had any drug related allergic reaction in the past.
Not at all. The radioactivity (i.e., radiation) is injected into the patient’s vein in the beginning of the examination. That means that repeated scanning does not affect the amount of radiation in any way.
Yes. The administered material will not affect your attention in any way.
In most cases, the radioactivity “falls apart” until the next day after the examination. Since the radiopharmaceutical is mostly excreted in urine, it is advisable to increase the intake of liquids on the day of the examination and urinate more frequently in order to speed up its excretion from the body.
In general, you may return to work. Only patients who work with children and pregnant women (e.g., teachers) are advised not to return to work, in order to minimise the effect of radiation. They will be issued a confirmation about the one-day examination at our office.
Children and pregnancy.
On the day of the examination, it is not recommended to be in close contact with children so as to minimise the effect of radiation especially on small children. This applies particularly to hugging and sleeping in the same room, and in general it is advised to keep distance from children as much as possible. However, you do not need to worry about the effect of the radiation on your child. At our facility, we routinely perform examinations on small children and newborns in order to determine the proper diagnoses.
Pregnant women can only be examined upon consultation with the attending doctor, if the examination is deemed absolutely necessary.
It is recommended to discontinue the breastfeeding for 12 – 24 hours. After the administration of certain materials, it may be necessary to discontinue the breastfeeding for a longer period of time, but the patient will be informed about such case in advance.
You may be accompanied to the examination by anyone, except for children and pregnant women.
It is advisable to bring the child’s favourite toy or book in order to make the waiting time before the examination more pleasant. For the youngest children, it is advised to bring an extra diaper and tea or milk, since the time of the examination can be delayed due to technical difficulties.
For newborns and small children up to the ages of 3 – 4 years (depending on the child’s level of cooperation), it is advisable to ensure that an intravenous cannula is inserted before the examination. An intravenous cannula that has been inserted beforehand enables an easier application of the radiopharmaceutical and the child’s cooperation during the examination, since it requires the child to lie still. If the child is non-cooperative and restless after the intravenous application at the beginning of the examination, it can have severe consequences on the examination itself, as well as its result and evaluation. If the child is restless, the attending doctor at the PET Centre will provide a sedative or an anaesthesia.
With most examinations, it is possible to eat, drink, and take medicine without any restrictions before and during the examination. In other cases, where this is not possible, the patient will be instructed accordingly when making the appointment or when summoned to attend the examination.
The patient is allowed to bring some snack and a beverage. Some examinations are carried out several hours apart, therefore having a snack or even something to read can be useful.
Do you want to know how the examination procedure looks like? Here is the series of videos, that describe procedures of examinations and patient safety before, during and after these examinations. By clicking the button below, you enter the section with the videos.