Examining How Organs Are Working
Winchester Hospital's nuclear medicine services are located at the hospital's main campus. Our nuclear medicine services are accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR).
About Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear medicine is unique because it shows how organs and tissues are working. For example, nuclear medicine allows physicians to see how a kidney is functioning, not just what it looks like. Other diagnostic imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans and MRIs, reveal anatomical structure.
There are more than 50 different nuclear medicine examinations to assess organ function. A thyroid uptake study shows how well the thyroid gland is working. A cardiac stress test shows blood flow to the heart and helps your physician detect coronary artery disease. Bone scans can detect fractures, tumors and infections.
Scheduling an Exam
To schedule a nuclear medicine exam, call our centralized scheduling office at 781-756-2211. Nuclear medicine exams require a written physician order that can be faxed or brought with you. You may be required to have pre-authorization from your insurance carrier prior to your exam.
What to Expect
For most nuclear medicine examinations, you are positioned on a scanning table underneath a scintillation, or gamma camera. The gamma camera is not a tube or tunnel.
A radiopharmaceutical is administered to you by having it injected into a vein, taking it by mouth or inhaling it as a gas. It travels through your bloodstream to a specific area of the body where it accumulates in the organs or tissues to be imaged. The gamma camera then detects and records the radioactive emission from your body.
For some nuclear medicines studies, imaging takes place immediately. For others, images are taken an hour, two hours or even several days after administration of the radiopharmaceutical. In all cases, you are permitted to leave the hospital and return for the imaging procedure.
In most cases, the radiation that you are exposed to during a nuclear medicine procedure is equal or less than a standard X-ray of the same body area. In general, the radiopharmaceutical administered during the examination will be eliminated naturally from your body in one or two days.
Drinking fluids will help clear the radiopharmaceuticals from your system more quickly. You do not need to avoid contact with other people during this time.
Paying for Your Procedure
Although Winchester Hospital accepts most major commercial insurance plans, Medicare, Medicaid and Worker’s Compensation, it is important to check with your carrier prior to your exam to determine coverage. If you do not have health insurance, we accept MasterCard or Visa, personal checks or cash. We also are willing to set up payment plans.
Getting Your Results
Your exam will be interpreted by a radiologist using our state-of-the-art picture archiving and communication system (PACS). The results will then be sent to your doctor. Your doctor, in turn, will review the results with you to determine the best course of treatment.
To get a copy of your images, you will need to pre-arrange their release by calling Winchester Hospital at 781-756-2353. A 24-hour notice is preferred for most efficient customer service. Urgent requests will be honored, but there may be a 30- to 60-minute wait.
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