Nuclear Medicine uses small amounts of radioactive material and a specialized camera to create images of your body. This type of exam provides useful information about your body that cannot be obtained from other types of medical imaging exams. Since the nuclear medicine images can often depict how your body is functioning at a cellular level, it allows for detection of disease at it earliest stage. Nuclear medicine exams can be used to gather information about nearly all body parts.

All nuclear medicine exams are performed at the Mercy Health Partners Mercy and Hackley hospital campuses. Most nuclear medicine exams are performed on an outpatient basis requiring a scheduled appointment, however some exams are occasionally performed in the inpatient settings. Nuclear medicine exams require a small amount of radioactive material to be either injected intravenously or ingested orally followed by imaging with a special camera.

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What is nuclear medicine used for?

Where do I go for a nuclear medicine exam?

How do I prepare for a nuclear medicine exam?

What are the benefits and risks of a nuclear medicine exam?

What will I experience during a nuclear medicine exam?

How do I get the results of a nuclear medicine exam?

Are the costs of a nuclear medicine exam covered by insurance?

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What is nuclear medicine used for?

Nuclear medicine exams can be performed on many body parts. Nuclear medicine is unique in that the information gathered and images created allow for assessment of a body parts function at a cellular level which cannot be obtained with other types of medical imaging. It is mainly used as a diagnostic tool but can also be used to assess response to a therapeutic and surgical intervention. Excellent for evaluating certain body parts but is of limited value for evaluating other body parts.

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Where do I go for a nuclear medicine exam?

All nuclear medicine exams are performed at our Mercy Health Partner Muskegon hospital campuses. Most but not all of our exams are performed as an outpatient requiring a scheduled appointment.

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How do I prepare for a nuclear medicine exam?

Loose fitting clothing is recommended. Patients may be asked to change into a gown provided by the imaging facility, remove jewelry or empty pockets prior to the exam. Prior to a scheduled appointment some preparation may be required. Patients may be asked to avoid eating or drinking for a certain length of time prior to the exam, however taking daily medication(s) is usually recommended. Most exams require a radiology nurse to insert an IV for intravenous injection of nuclear medicine materials.

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What are the benefits and risks of a nuclear medicine exam?

Nuclear medicine exams are generally safe and painless. Nuclear medicine exams are unique in medical imaging, the physician can gather useful information about a body parts function at the cellular level which allows for more accurate diagnosis of disease conditions affecting the body. Because nuclear medicine exams creates images depicting body part function at the cellular level, the exams are very sensitive and can detect disease conditions at a very early stage which may not be visible on other types of medical imaging exams. Nuclear medicine exams require IV injection, oral administration or inhalation of radioactive materials. The amount of radioactive material administered to a patient for a specific exam is usually safe and not detrimental to the patient’s health, however higher doses of the radioactive material administered for a single exam, or more likely as a cumulative lifetime dose from multiple exams, can be detrimental to a patient’s health.

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What will I experience during a nuclear medicine exam?

Most nuclear medicine exams require insertion of an IV for intravenous injection of nuclear medicine materials. After IV injection or oral ingestion of the radioactive materials, most exams require the patient to lay on an imaging table for a period of time while a special camera obtains data and creates images of the body. Some of the nuclear medicine exams can be lengthy requiring the patient to remain laying relatively motionless for an extended period of time. Some exams require additional patient cooperation such as insertion of a bladder catheter, breathing info a mask or even physical activity which can be pain producing (cardiac stress testing). Some discomfort is possible during a nuclear medicine following the IV injection of radioactive materials which can resulting a warm flushing sensation. The vast majority of nuclear medicine exams are tolerated well by patients.

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How do I get the results of a nuclear medicine exam?

Exam results are usually available within 24 hours after the exam is performed. Once the exam is interpreted and reported by the radiologist, the exam results become immediately available for review by the requesting physician through the secure Mercy Health Partners patient portal system and the results become part of the patient’s permanent medical record. Patients can request a copy of their images at the performing imaging facility.

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Are the costs of a nuclear medicine exam covered by insurance?

The vast majority of nuclear medicine exam costs are covered by private insurance plans and Medicaid/Medicare plans. Because nuclear medicine exams use special radioactive materials that need to be created and prepared, the costs of the exam are higher than other types of basic diagnostic medical imaging. At Radiology Muskegon, we strive to reduce unnecessary costs incurred by patients. There are options available to patients for financial assistance or reduced payment plan options if patients are not able to pay the costs of imaging.

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