A nuclear scan is a procedure that uses a scanner and a chemical called a radioactive tracer to show organs or other body tissues that may be abnormal. Abnormal tissues absorb more or less of the radioactive chemical than healthy tissues.
There are many kinds of nuclear scans, such as:
The radioactive chemical can be given by mouth, injected into a vein (IV), or inhaled as a gas. The level of radiation is usually about the same as the amount you get during a chest X-ray. It may be more depending on the kind of scan. The radioactive chemical goes to the part of the body being scanned.
For the nuclear scan, your child will lie down on a table. A camera that shows the radioactive chemical takes several pictures while your child is resting.
Depending on the type of nuclear scan, it may take 2 hours or more for the radioactive chemical to be absorbed. The actual scan usually takes 30 to 60 minutes.
Your child may need to drink a lot of water for a few hours or days after the test to flush out the radioactive chemical. Follow any instructions your healthcare provider gives you. After the test, your child can go home and return to normal activities.
Ask your healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
Every procedure or treatment has risks. Your child may have a reaction to the radioactive chemical.
Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.