The Nuclear Medicine Department, located on the 3rd floor of the WHS Washington Hospital, staffed by board certified nuclear medicine technologists and board certified nuclear medicine and nuclear cardiology physicians.

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear Medicine performs diagnostic imaging to look at the function of organs and detect diseases in the body.  A radioactive material is injected into the arm or given by mouth so that imaging may be performed.  The material will not make you sick and gives off about the same amount of radiation as having a CT scan.  A wide variety of organs may be examined such as the thyroid, heart, gallbladder, liver, bones, and stomach, to name a few.

Contact the Nuclear Medicine Department directly at (724) 223-3110.

To learn more about some of our common tests, click on one of the titles below

There are six types of bone scans that may detect sport injuries, metastasis, unexplained pain, osteoporosis, neoplasms, fractures, tumors, etc.  There are no eating restrictions with a bone scan.  Before and after the injection, drinking plenty of fluids will help improve the quality of your exam.  The patient will be injected in the arm and then scanned two hours later.  During the two-hour wait there are no restrictions and the patient may leave the hospital. The scan will take anywhere from 40 to 75 minutes.

This test will evaluate how well the left ventricle wall moves and the heart pumps the blood.  There are no food restrictions prior to this scan.  The patient will receive an injection in the arm, wait 30 minutes, and receive a second injection.  These will allow us to see the heart.  The patient will then lie quietly while three different views of the heart are taken.  The test will take approximately 75 minutes.

Most lung scans are to detect blood clots in the lung.  There are no food restrictions prior to this test.  The patient will be asked to breathe a radioactive material through a tube for five minutes, and then six ventilation images will be taken of your lungs.  The patient will then receive a radioactive injection, which also goes to the lungs, and the same six pictures will be taken again. These images are compared to determine if any blood clots are present.

This scan is to detect problems in the liver such as cysts, cirrhosis and tumors. There are no eating restrictions prior to the test.  A radioactive injection will be given in the arm.  After allowing the injection to circulate for 15 minutes, the patient will lie on the scan table while various views of the liver and spleen are taken.  The scan takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes.

This test is to detect problems in the gallbladder or biliary system.  The patient may not eat or have narcotic pain medication for four hours prior to the test.  An injection of radioactive material will be given in the arm and scanning begins immediately.  The scan may take anywhere from 40 minutes to four hours.  After the gallbladder is visualized, an infusion of a medication that caused the gallbladder to contract will be given for some patients.  This medication will give additional information about the function of the gallbladder.

A Nuclear Cardiac Stress Test is also known as Thallium or Cardiolite Stress Test.

This test is to determine if there are blockages in the patient’s coronary arteries. The patient must not eat for four hours prior to the test.  The patient should be off Beta-Blocker medications but only on the instructions from the ordering physician. An IV will be inserted into the patient’s arm, and an injection of a radioactive material will be given. After waiting 15 minutes to circulate, the patient’s resting scan will be taken.  The patient then goes to EKG Department for the actual treadmill portion of the test.  One minute before ending the treadmill test, the patient will receive a 2nd injection.  The patient will then return to Nuclear Medicine for the stress scan.  The entire procedure will take 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

This test is to determine if there are any blockages in the coronary arteries.  The patient may not eat four hours prior to the test.  The patient is to be off medications such as Theophylline, Persantine, and Pharmacologic for 48 hours prior to the test.  The patient is to have no caffeine for 24 hours prior to the test.  An IV will be placed in the patient’s arm and an injection of a radioactive material will be given.  After circulating 15 minutes the patients resting scan will be taken.  The patient will then proceed to the EKG department to have the Pharmacologic stress portion of the test while the doctor monitors the heart.  While the Pharmacologic is being infused, another radioactive injection will be given.  The patient then returns to the Nuclear Medicine Department for the stress scan. The entire test will take approximately 3 to 4 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

A nuclear medicine scan is used to image a specific organ system in the human body by means of administering a small dose of radioactivity and looking at the physiology or function of the organ system of interest.

All nuclear medicine scans are performed at the hospital due to the sophistication of the equipment. We do not perform these tests at any of our outpatient centers.

WHS Washington Hospital performs nuclear medicine exams for outpatients Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., by appointment only. It is very import for you to be on time for you appointment. If you need to cancel, please call use with a 72 hour notice at (724) 223-3110.

Yes, you or your physician may call (724) 223-3110 to schedule your exam. . It is very import for you to be on time for you appointment. If you need to cancel, please call use with a 72 hour notice at (724) 223-3110.

A prescription is necessary for you to have the exam. Please remember to place the prescription in your wallet prior to leaving the doctor’s office, so it will be on your person when you arrive for the exam. If you do not have a prescription or your doctor has not sent one to the hospital, your exam may be delayed.

You will not have to change clothes as long as there are no metal snaps, buttons or zippers on your shirt or pants.

No, it is a radioactive material, and it does not have side effects like some dyes.

No, there are no reactions to the radioactive material.

Most material used has a six-hour half-life, meaning ½ the radioactive material is gone in six hours. Most or all the material is gone within 48 hours.

With most nuclear medicine tests, taking medications will not interfere with the test. However, medications may interfere with stress tests or thyroid scans. Check with the nuclear medicine Department if you are not sure.

Most scans will give the amount of radiation similar to one chest X-ray. Therapy doses and PET scans provide more radiation but are still within safe limits as required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.