Nuclear Medicine


General Information:
Nuclear medicine exams are a special type of imaging test that use very small amounts of radioactive agents to provide information about how various organs in the body are functioning. This is in contrast to other imaging tests that are based on identifying disease processes by changes in anatomy. Because of this, nuclear medicine, or molecular imaging, procedures can sometimes identify abnormalities in early stages of a disease which can improve a patient's prognosis.

Nuclear medicine exams use very small amounts of radioactive materials called radiopharmaceuticals. These substances are taken up by different parts of the body and emit gamma rays that are detected by special types of cameras called gamma cameras and P.E.T. cameras. These cameras use powerful computers to form images that provide information about the area of the body being studied. The amount of radiation from most nuclear medicine exams is comparable to that of a regular x-ray exam.

While there are hundreds of nuclear medicine exams, some of the more common exams performed include:

  • Bone scans: Used to detect arthritis, fractures, sports injuries, infections, tumors, and causes of unexplained bone pain.
  • H.I.D.A (Gallbladder) Scan: Used to see how well the gallbladder is functioning.
  • MUGA: Used to look for signs of heart disease and to see how well the heart is functioning.
  • Renal Imaging: Used to look for areas of blockage in the urinary tract and to see how well the kidneys are functioning.
  • Thyroid Scan: Used to look for over or under function of the gland and to evaluate nodules (lumps).


Preparation for an Upcoming Exam:
For all exams, please tell your doctor and InnerVision if you are pregnant, think you are pregnant, or are a nursing mother.

Bone Scan: You will need to be well hydrated for this exam. You should drink as much fluid as possible before the exam. There is no other special preparation needed.

Bone-Indium Scan: For this exam you will have a small sample of blood drawn the morning of the exam. This will be labeled and reinjected in the afternoon. The scan will be performed the next day. You should drink as much fluid as possible before the exam.

H.I.D.A (Gallbladder) Scan: Since food and drink in the stomach can alter the results of the exam, you will be asked not to eat or drink for at least 6 hours before the exam. You should also not take any prescribed narcotic pain medications the day of the exam since this can alter the test results.

Muga Scan (Heart Exam): No Prep. A small injection is given that tags the patient's red blood cells. Following a 30 minute wait, another injection is given of the radioisotope followed by a single 10 minute image.

Renal Imaging: Test preparation will vary depending on the age of the patient and type of exam being performed. You should contact InnerVision for specific instructions or call 765-447-7447.

Thyroid Uptake and Imaging: You will need to stop taking your synthroid for 6 weeks before the exam and PTU for 2 weeks before the exam. This should be discussed with your doctor. You should not eat seafood or take multi-vitamins for one week prior to your test. You should have nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours before the exam.

What to Expect on the Day of Your Exam:
Please arrive at your scheduled appointment time. While you will NOT have to go through a lengthy registration process, you will need to fill out a brief information sheet.

Most exams will begin with the nuclear medicine technologist injecting the radiopharmaceutical. In some exams, you will then be asked to lie on the nuclear medicine exam table and imaging will begin. In other types of exams, the radiopharmaceutical has to distribute throughout your body before imaging can begin. For these exams, you will have to return later in the day for the remainder of your exam. The table below lists some of the more common exams and how long you may have to wait for imaging to begin.


Type of Exam

When Imaging Begins
(After Injection)

Imaging Time

Bone Scan
Bone Scan (3-phase)
Gallbladder (HIDA)
Renal Scan (Lasix)
Thyroid Uptake/Scan
Muga Scan

3 Hrs
Immediately and @ 3 Hrs
Next day
30 Minutes

1 Hr
1 Hr
1.5 Hrs
1 Hr
1 Hr
  10 minutes, but allow for 1 hour for total procedure


Before you leave, your images will be reviewed by one of our board certified radiologists who may ask the technologist to obtain additional images. This is not uncommon and should be no cause for alarm. After all of the images have been obtained, a timely report will be given to your doctor by a radiologist who specializes in Nuclear Medicine.

You will be given an opportunity to fill out an evaluation of our services and make suggestions for improvement.


Please contact us at 765.447.7447.


The Official Imaging Center for Purdue Athletics