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Nuclear Medicines in India
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What is Nuclear Medicine ?
Nuclear Medicine involves the use of radioactive materials, or Isotopes, to obtain specific diagnostic information. These Isotopes transmit a pattern of rays representing the organ size, shape and function. The rays are detected by a special camera which, when coupled with a computer, produces a characteristic image on a screen. The amount of radiation to which the patient is exposed causes no significant danger. The tracer material a radionuclide is eliminated from the body in a day or two. Complications or side effects are rare.

What Will The Exam Be Like ?
The individual who will be performing the examination on you is known as a Nuclear Medical technologist. This technologist has completed a rigorous course of education and training, and works under close supervision of the radiologist (a radiologist is a physician who specializes in the study of imaged tests such as Ultrasound, X-Rays etc.) to assure the most accurate results from your exam. Your technologist will gently position you on the scanning table under the camera A radionuclide will then be injected or taken orally. This makes it possible for the camera to detect certain organs and their functions. Most scans require many different images and perhaps a few position changes. You will be asked to lie still. Each scan will take about three minutes some may take longer. Movement may result in the need for additional scans.

How Long Will The Exam Take ?
Time may vary significantly depending on the nature of the study and other factors. Your doctor will advise you of the amount of time needed for your particular exam.

Is it safe to nurse my baby after administration of the isotope ?
Although very little radioactivity is excreted in the breast milk, it is better to discontinue nursing for a time. How long you stop depends on the agent administered and can vary 24 hours or longer. It is important for you to let us know if you are breast feeding, just as it is important to inform the nuclear medicine personnel if you are pregnant, or think that you could be pregnant.

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Is Nuclear Medicines used for Cardiac Study ?
There are several types of heart studies in Nuclear Medicine. The most common study is a myocardial perfusion scan to access coronary heart disease. This is usually a two part study. Typically, the first part is a resting myocardial perfusion scan - scanning is performed about 30 minutes after the tracer is given to the patient intravenously in a resting condition. The second part is a stress myocardial perfusion scan. Injection of the tracer is done while the patient is exercising on a treadmill machine. If the patient cannot exercise well, a pharmacological stress study can be performed instead. The patient will be given a medicine, that dilates heart blood vessels or makes the heart work faster, before the radiotracer is injected.

I'm scheduled for a nuclear medicine exam and have had a reaction to X-ray dyes. What should I do ?
Nuclear medicine employs tracer amounts of radioactive drugs called radiopharmaceuticals, not iodinated dyes used in X-ray and CAT scans. No allergic reactions are expected to occur.

Is the radioactivity I will receive harmful ?
More than 9 million nuclear medicine exams are done each year in the India. The amount of radiation received is about what an individual receives to the whole body each year in the course of daily life (so called "background" or "natural radiation"). It is comparable to many conventional X-rays, and less than those X-rays using fluoroscopy such as GI series and angiography. Nuclear medicine exams are among the safest of radiological procedures.

Why may it be necessary for my child to be sedated ?
As in adults, the scanning procedure can take several minutes (possibly up to 45 minutes). It is very important that the patient lie absolutely still during the acquisition of the scan. In children, generally aged 6 months to 6 years, it is frequently necessary to use sedation. This is always done in conjunction with a trained radiology nurse, your referring pediatric physician, and sometimes the Department of Anesthesiology according to our sedation policies.

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