The services offered by the Nuclear Medicine Department may be divided into 2 categories:

  • Imaging Tests, where a picture of how the body is working is obtained using a gamma camera.
  • Non Imaging Tests, which provide physiological information without needing a picture to be taken.

Imaging Tests

All imaging tests involve a 2 step procedure:

  • The administration of a radioisotope (a chemical element that emits radiation during its breakdown) to the patient.  This may be intravenous, oral or by a number of other routes.
  • The production of a picture or series of pictures of the distribution of radioisotope within the body.

The main tests undertaken at Barnsley Hospital are:

  • Bone Imaging.
  • Cardiac Imaging.
  • Kidney Imaging.
  • Lung Imaging.
  • Parathyroid Imaging.
  • Thyroid Imaging.

Please note that patients will be slightly radioactive for a short time following their visit, therefore patients are advised not to spend a long time with small children for the rest of the day.

Non-Imaging Tests

There are many cases where an image of the radioactivity in the body is not required.  Information about the way in which the body metabolises a given tracer can often be obtained from measuring the radioactivity present in samples of body fluids.

Types of Procedures

Nuclear Medicine Bone ScanThis test involves a small injection into a vein in the arm and a series of pictures will be taken about 3 hours later.  Patients may stay in the hospital or leave to return later if they prefer. After the injection patients will be advised of the time they need to return for their scan.  The scan itself will take approximately 45 minutes.

There are no side effects to this test.  However, patients should inform their employer that they have had this test, before returning to work of a radiosensitive nature.  Advice on these types of work can be obtained from the Nuclear Medicine department.

Nuclear Medicine Cardiac Scan – This is a test which has to be done at two different appointments.

During one appointment, patients will be given an infusion of a drug into a vein in their arm, this drug is designed to imitate exercising. The patient will then need to wait an hour to an hour and a half for the dye to be taken up in their heart muscle.  We can then take a series of pictures using a special piece of equipment called a Gamma Camera.  It will take about 20 minutes to take these pictures, during which time patients will need to lie flat on the scanning bed.

Some patients then require a follow-up scan to look at the heart again in its rest state (without the drug which imitates exercise). During this appointment, a small amount of radioactive dye will be injected into a vein in the patient’s arm.  The patient will then need to wait for an hour to an hour and a half, at which time a series of pictures will be taken, as described above.

Nuclear Medicine Dynamic Renal Scan – This test involves the insertion of a small cannula (needle) into a vein in the patient’s arm.

A drug will then be given through this cannula to increase the flow of fluid to the patient’s kidneys.  Fifteen minutes after the drug has been given, a radioactive dye will be injected into the cannula and a series of pictures will be taken over the next half an hour.  Patients may eat and drink as normal beforehand.

Nuclear Medicine Static Renal Scan – The test involves an injection into the arm of a small amount of radioactive dye.

We then have to wait for about 2 to 3 hours for the dye to be taken up into the kidneys. At this time we will carry out a scan which takes 10 to 20 minutes.

If a child is over one year of age, we can administer a local anaesthetic cream so that the child does not feel the injection.  We advise that parents bring their child 1¼ hours before this appointment time to allow sufficient time for the cream to work.

If the child has a favourite DVD that they would like to watch whilst having their scan pictures taken, parents should bring it with them.

There are no known side effects to this test.

Nuclear Medicine Parathyroid Scan – This test involves a small injection into the arm and two sets of pictures being taken in the following sequence:

  • An injection of radioactive dye.
  • A 20 minute wait for the dye to collect in the thyroid.
  • A series of pictures which will take about 30 minutes.
  • A further wait of 60 minutes, during which time the patient may leave the department for refreshments if they wish.
  • The final set of pictures which can take 50 minutes.

For both sets of pictures, the patient will be asked to lie flat on the scanning bed and keep their head still.  The patient may eat and drink as normal on the day of their scan.

Patients will be slightly radioactive following this scan and will be given special instructions about avoiding close contact with children, pregnant women and certain public places.

Nuclear Medicine Thyroid Scan – This test involves a small injection into the arm and a series of pictures being taken.  Patients may eat and drink as normal beforehand and the scan takes approximately 40 minutes.

There are no side effects to this test, however, patients should inform their employer they have had his test before returning to work of a radiosensitive nature. Advice on these types of work can be obtained from the Nuclear Medicine department

Patients should avoid non-essential contact with children and pregnant women for the rest of the day after the injection.