Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine Procedures Diagnose & Treat a Wide Range of Conditions

Nuclear medicine is an advanced, highly specialized area of radiology that uses tiny amounts of radioactive materials to diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions, including multiple types of cancer. It can often detect and treat abnormalities very early in the disease progression, offering patients the best chance at an optimal outcome.


If your doctor has ordered a nuclear medicine procedure for you, trust UH to provide the most advanced care available. Schedule your appointment today at a UH location near you.

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Understanding How Nuclear Imaging Works

While most radiologic scans examine the appearance of organs and tissues within the body, nuclear medicine testing examines how they function. This is done by using a radioactive substance (called a radiotracer) to diagnose and/or treat patients.

Patients will be given specific information about how to prepare when they call to schedule the procedure. Some procedures require the injection of a small amount of the radiotracer, which then travels through the bloodstream. After injection, there is a waiting period to allow the radioactive tracers to collect in the body tissues or organ being studied. The waiting time will vary depending on the type of study being done and may range from a few minutes to a day.

After enough time has passed, the scan will begin. Areas where the radioactive tracers are the most concentrated give off radiation and appear as bright areas on the images. A specialized device called a Gamma camera, detects these areas of concentration and creates digital signals to be stored as images in a computer. The gamma camera may remain stationary or rotate around the patient depending on the type of study being done. A similar procedure is done with other radiotracers and another type of camera called a PET camera. This collects similar information, and may also be combined with a CT scanner.

The resulting computer-generated images are then examined by a nuclear medicine physician. The information provided by the images helps the doctor to assess the functioning of the organ or tissue being studied as well as identify changes or abnormalities, which may include tumors, infections, cysts and organ enlargement.

Some scans are completed in minutes, while others may need the patient to return a few times over the course of several days. The nuclear medicine team at University Hospitals will typically read and interpret scans on the same day they are completed.

Multidisciplinary Expertise for Optimal Outcomes

Our patients benefit from the expertise and experience of our dedicated, multidisciplinary team which includes board-certified nuclear medicine physicians and nuclear radiologists, physicists and radiochemists. Depending on the study being conducted, the team collaborates closely with other specialists including cardiologists, neurologists, nephrologists and oncologists to name a few, to ensure that each patient receives an accurate diagnosis and the most effective treatment plan possible.

We are proud to serve the communities of Northeast Ohio with state-of-the art nuclear imaging capabilities at multiple locations throughout the region.

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