Nuclear medicine imaging uses small amounts of radioactive material to investigate how different parts of the body work.
A radioactive material is given to the patient (either by an injection or orally) and is then detected by a scanner, called a gamma camera.
We use these types of scans to diagnose or evaluate or treat a variety of conditions, including many types of cancers, Parkinson's disease, kidney disorders, replacement joints, lung, liver and stomach problems.
More on what we do
The radioactive material, called a radiopharmaceutical or tracer, will settle in certain areas of your body. A gamma camera is then used to take images of the radioactive material inside you. It means we can look at things such as kidney function, the working of the brain, bones and other organs in great detail.
The radioactive tracer will be given to you. If it's by injection, it doesn't hurt any more than the ‘pinprick’ of a blood test. We then have to wait for this tracer to get into whichever part of the body we are examining.
Some scans are performed straight away, others need to wait for 2 to 4 hours, depending on the scan. Some scans are on a different day from the tracer dose. You will be able to leave the department if a delay is needed. We will tell you when to return to the department for images to be taken.
For the scan, you will be asked to lie on a table. Depending on the scan type, the gamma camera may come close to your head and face. Some scans cover the full length of the body, others centre on particular areas, as required. There are sensors in the camera which stop it moving if it touches anything, so it cannot hurt you.
The scans will be analysed by department staff, then a report will be sent to the doctor who referred you for the investigation.
Where to find us
RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW
Nuclear Medicine, Level 1, Area N.
To contact the Nuclear Medicine Department, call 01392 402124.
The office is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm.