Nuclear Medicine is a branch of medicine that uses radiopharmaceuticals (tracers) to provide information about a patient’s anatomy and the function of specific organs within the body. Nuclear Medicine at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children (PMH) is used as a diagnostic tool to enable the doctors to gain more information about the diseases or disorders that a child may have.
When a scan is to be performed it is necessary to introduce a tracer into the body. This is usually through an injection but it can also be given orally or through a breathing device.
After the tracer has been given the patient is positioned under the gamma camera and images are taken. (It is sometimes necessary to wait a few hours before the images are taken; this is dependant upon the organ of interest.) In order for the images to be produced it is necessary to remain very still for a period of time, which can be at least one hour duration. We understand that this is a lot to expect from a child and we have a selection of movies that the child can watch during the scan in order to distract them. We will also use immobilisation equipment to assist the child to remain still. If your child has a favourite DVD you are welcome to bring it along and we can play it for them during the scan.
The images are produced by the tracer that has been injected ‘giving off’ gamma rays which are detected by the gamma camera and an image is produced which represents the distribution of the tracer within the childs body. The images are then analysed on a dedicated computer system and the doctor who specializes in reading the images produces a report based on the findings of the scan.
The results from the scan will be sent to the doctor who referred the child for the nuclear medicine study, and you will receive them at your next appointment with the referring doctor. Results are not normally given on the day of the scan.
Some scans require special preparation but many do not. If any preparation is necessary you will be informed at the time that you are given the appointment.
The scan will be performed by nuclear medicine technologists and will be reported by a nuclear medicine physician. The people working in the nuclear medicine department at PMH have all been specifically trained in the field.
If your child is referred for a nuclear medicine study and you have any questions then you are welcome to telephone the department on (08) 9340 8557 and we will endeavour to answer your queries.