About medical imaging
Medical imaging includes:
- mammography (breast screen)
- computed tomography (CT)
- nuclear medicine (including PET)
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- orthopantomogram (OPG)
- interventional radiology.
Find out more about each of these procedures and about diagnostic imaging.
A nuclear medicine procedure involves giving a small amount of radioactive isotope, usually by an injection into your bloodstream. This makes parts of your body radioactive for a short time. Many different parts of the body can be looked at, depending on the type of ‘radiopharmaceutical’ (radioactive tracer) used.
A special camera looks at the radiation from your body, and takes pictures of how the inside of your body is working. It can be used to find out what's wrong, or to see what effect a treatment is having.
Positron emission tomography (PET) is a common nuclear medicine test often used to help diagnose certain cancers, brain disorders and heart conditions.
These scans are very safe and there are no side effects from the small amounts of radioactive substances used.
For more information about particular procedures see the Agency for Clinical Innovation Nuclear medicine resources.
Nuclear medicine therapy
Nuclear medicine therapy uses radioactive medication to treat medical conditions, including some types of arthritis and cancers. It can also be used to relieve the pain from cancer that has spread to bone or other organs.
At Nepean Hospital, we provide:
- I-131 therapy thyroid treatment
Radiotherapy using Iodine-131 (I-131) is used to treat an overactive thyroid and may also be used to treat patients with thyroid cancers. A small dose of I-131 is swallowed and absorbed by the body where it concentrates in the thyroid gland to help destroy the cells.
- Yttrium-90 SIR-Spheres Microspheres (SIRT)
SIR-Spheres consists of specially designed spherical micro spheres, which contain a radioactive element called Yttrium-90. Their size is very small, about one third the diameter of a strand of hair. SIR-Spheres is intended for implantation into liver tumours to selectively deliver high doses of ionising radiation to the tumour.
A specialist doctor will talk to you about the necessary radiation precautions and preparations before your treatment.
Access our services
Your GP, specialist or surgeon will talk to you about accessing our services, and give you a referral.
We bulk bill so there is no cost to you or your family for any Medicare-funded service if you have a Medicare card.
How to prepare
Some procedures and scans will require careful preparation. Your doctor will talk to you about how you must prepare for your procedure or scan.
If you are admitted to hospital, our nurses will help you prepare for your procedure.
Contact us if you are diabetic or have any questions or concerns about preparing.
In general, bone scans, lung scans and gated heart pool scans require no preparation. Special preparation is required as follows for other procedures:
Patients need to weigh less than 120kg and be able to walk around.
Tell us when booking if the patient has had iodinated contrast, barium, bowel preparations, or a nuclear medicine procedure in the last 4 weeks.
No laxatives from the Friday prior and for the duration of the test.
Images are acquired at 6, 24, 48, 72 and 96 hours after the radioisotope is given.
Studies requiring bowel preparation (colonoscopy, barium enema etc) must not be performed less than 4 weeks before a colonic transit study.
Fast from midnight.
Avoid prolonged fasting. Fatty meal 4 hours before scan, then fasting until the scan.
Drink 1 litre of liquid 1 hour before, and do not take any diuretics ('water tablets').
For 24 hours before the test, patients must be caffeine free. This means they must not have any:
- coffee (including decaffeinated and herbal)
- chocolate or any food containing chocolate
- soft drink
- stimulant drinks (such as V or Red Bull)
From midnight before the test, nil by mouth (no food or drink) - patients with diabetes call our team to discuss your preparation.
Regular medications can be taken as normal on the morning of the test.
Note: patients over 120 kg will require imaging over 2 days.
No food or drink for 4 hours before the scan.
No food for at least 6 hours before your appointment (including no chewing gum, lollies or lozenges).
You may drink plain water only.
Wear warm, comfortable clothing. Ensure that your neck is very warm by wearing a scarf.
Avoid strenuous activity in the 24 hours before your scan.
Take all non-diabetic medications as required.
Remove all metal items, including underwire bras, before your scan.
Bring all recent medical imaging films or CDs to your appointment.
You must advise us if you could be pregnant or are breast feeding.
Call our team to discuss your preparation if you have diabetes.
Tell us when booking if the patient:
- is on thyroid medications such as Oroxine, Neomercazole or derivatives
- has had iodinated contrast in the past 6 weeks.
What to expect
Our team is here to help. We will guide you through every step of your procedure or scan.
All patients are required to lie flat on their back for the duration of the scan. Talk to your doctor or call our team if this may be difficult for you.
Wear comfortable, non-metallic clothes (no underwire bras) and bring:
- your Medicare card
- any previous X-rays or scans
- a list of your current medications.
Information for referring clinicians
Our team is available to answer any questions you may have about our services.
All new patients will need a completed referral form to be faxed before an appointment can be made. GPs and referring clinicians can access the form in the Nepean Blue Mountains LHD outpatient referral catalogue.
Call our Nuclear Medicine and PET Department on (02) 4734 2156 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.