Nuclear medicine is a form of medical imaging that uses the nuclear properties of matter to indicate to a patient's physician how their organs, bones or glands are functioning, as opposed to other forms of imaging that indicate how the organs, bones, muscles or glands appear.
Nuclear medicine imaging tests focus on the process of a certain part of the body rather than its size, shape or other physical appearance. By exploiting the way a patient's body handles a substance‐that is either injected or consumed‐nuclear medicine technologists can determine if there is a disease or present. For instance, a patient undergoing a renal study would be injected with a substance that would fill the kidney(s), and then receive a follow-up injection stimulating them to drain, allowing nuclear medicine technologists to monitor how well the organ is actually working. This differs from a static image such as an x-ray or MRI which would show the shape and size but not the process of the organ.
Some of the tests provided on-site at Virginia Mason Memorial include:
- Cardiac stress test
- Renal study
- Biliary scan (also known as a Hida Scan)
- Lung scan
- Gastric empty study
- Thyroid uptake and scan/thyroid scan
- Brain scan