Programs & Services at Sterling Regional MedCenter  

Nuclear Medicine


To schedule an appointment please call scheduling at (970) 521-3146.

What is NucMed?
Nuclear medicine is the name for examinations where the patient receives a radioactive substance, either intravenously or by mouth, which allows the physician to see the patient's bones and internal organs. 

The images that emerge when energy is emitted by the radioactive substance can show the physician how the organs are functioning.  Generally, the amount of radiation that enters the patient is similar to that resulting from a standard x-ray examination.  The radioactive substances leave the body very fast and do not cause any side effects.

Nuclear medicine can be used to:

  • Analyze kidney function
  • Scan lungs for respiratory and blood-flow issues
  • Identify function of the gallbladder
  • Analyze blood flow and heart function
  • Evaluate bones for fracture, infection, arthritis, or tumors
  • Determine the presence or spread of cancer
  • Identify bleeding into the bowel
  • Detect and locate an infection
  • Measure thyroid function

View the full prep sheet.

Bone Scans:  Evaluates bones for fractures, infection, arthritis, or tumors.

  • An injection is given to the patient.  Patient returns in 3-4 hours for delayed imaging of the whole body or a specific area
  • Scan time is usually about 30-60 minutes
  • Patient should be well hydrated for this test

Cardiac Scans: 

Lung Scans:  Check lung for respiratory and blood-flow issues (i.e. pulmonary embolism)

  • Patient must inhale a radioactive gas to check the airflow to the lungs.  Imaging of the ventilation takes about 30 minutes
  • Patient must then receive an injection to check the blood-flow to the lungs.  Subsequent imaging of the perfusion takes about 30 minutes
  • Total scan time is about 60 minutes
  • No special patient prep for this scan

HIDA Scans:  Identify function of the gallbladder.

  • Patient receives an injection and imaging starts immediately after injection
  • Patient is imaged for 60 minutes to visualize gallbladder
  • Patient then receives a second injection to contract the gallbladder and additional images are taken for another 30 minutes to calculate an ejection fraction for the gallbladder
  • Patient needs to be NPO for 4 hours prior to the scan including any narcotic drugs
  • Total scan time is about 90 minutes

Thyroid Uptake and Scan:  Measure thyroid function and detect thyroid nodules.

  • Patient will ingest a radioactive iodine capsule
  • Patient will return 4 hours after capsule ingestion to measure the amount of radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland. (uptake)
  • At 4 hours the patient will also have images taken of the thyroid gland.  This take about 30 minutes
  • At 24 hours the patient must return for a second uptake or measurement of the iodine level in the thyroid
  • Patient needs to be off thyroid medications for 4-6 weeks, depending on the medication
  • Patient should have no x-rays with contrast for the last 3 weeks
  • Patient must be NPO for 4 hours before taking the capsule

Renal Scan:  Analyze kidney function.

  • Patient should be well hydrated prior to scan
  • Patient will receive an injection and immediately start imaging.
  • When checking for UPJ obstruction, the patient will receive an injection of Lasix 15 minutes into imaging.  Imaging time is 30 minutes
  • When checking for renal hypertension, the patient will receive a Captopril tablet prior to the injection.  They will have to have their blood pressure monitored for 60 minutes before imaging Imaging takes 30 minutes.  In this case, the patient may also have to return another day for additional imaging
Sterling Regional MedCenter
615 Fairhurst St.
Sterling, CO 80751
(970) 522-0122
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