Nuclear Medicine


Nuclear medicine imaging uses small amounts of radioactive materials called radiotracers that are typically injected into the bloodstream, inhaled or swallowed. The radiotracer travels through the area being examined and gives off energy in the form of gamma rays which are detected by a special camera and a computer to create images of the inside of your body. 


There are two gamma cameras within the trust, one at RLI and the other at FGH. Some of the types of scans involved include:

What does a scan involve and how does it work?

Nuclear medicine scans (or radionuclide scans) provide functional information and often work alongside other imaging modalities such as CT, MRI and U/S. A scan involves an injection of a chemical, which emits a type of radiation called gamma rays which can be picked up on a special type of scanner called a gamma camera.

Depending on the information required and the type of injection, the patient is scanned either immediately or after a specified length of time. The scan can take anything from 15 minutes to an hour and half depending on the particular scan being performed. Patients do not usually need to get undressed for the scan, but may be asked to remove jewellery, belts and shoes.

Where are the Nuclear Medicine departments?

The Nuclear Medicine is in the X-Ray Department on the ground floor of the Centenary Building at Royal Lancaster Infirmary. At Furness General Hospital it is located in the main X-Ray department on the ground floor.

Are there any side effects?

There are no particular side effects from the injections used but due to the radioactive nature and the amount of radioactivity injected, the patient may be given instructions to avoid close contact with young children or pregnant women as a precautionary measure.  If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please inform the department before you attend your appointment.

The radiation risk involved with the scans depends on the body area being examined. All requests for scans are viewed and accepted by experienced, qualified staff to ensure the patient’s condition warrants the scan and every precaution and recommendation is followed to ensure that any radiation dose is kept to a minimum. The radiation has almost all left your body after about a week. 

When and how will I get the results?

The results may take up to 2 weeks to come through. You should hear from your referring doctor, either by letter or at a follow up appointment. If you have not heard anything within 4 weeks we recommend you contact the clinician or your GP.

Updated November 2018

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