Nuclear Medicine

A nuclear medicine scan is a safe, painless exam to help diagnosis abnormalities of internal organs and systems, especially abnormalities of the bone, gallbladder, heart, liver or thyroid.

The scan requires the use of a small amount of radioactive material, which is introduced into your system orally or with an IV injection. As the radioactive material travels to the area to be examined, a machine called a gamma camera makes detailed images of the area.

Winneshiek Medical Center offers nuclear medicine scans through a mobile service provided by Mayo Clinic.

What to expect

A specialized technologist will provide an oral or IV injected dose of radioactive material. After the injection, you may be asked to leave and come back for the imaging in approximately 2.5–3.5 hours.

In most cases, you will not have to change into a gown for a nuclear medicine scan. You will be asked you to lie on the examining table, usually on your back. You may be asked to change position as the technologist rotates the camera. It is very important that you lie still when asked by the technologist – sometimes up to 15 minutes at a time – so that images are clear.

Please inform the technologist if you are pregnant or could be pregnant prior to the exam.

The exam takes up to one hour to perform.  A nuclear medicine physician will interpret the images and your doctor will discuss the results of the scan with you.

Commonly asked questions
Is the radioactive material safe?

  • There is no evidence of danger caused by radiation used in this exam.  Complications and/or side effects are rare.

How long will the radioactive material stay in my body?

  • The radioactive material will disappear within 1-2 days.

In This Section

Return to Medical Imaging