Nuclear Scan Test
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What are the Types of Nuclear Scan Test

What is a Nuclear Scan Test?

The nuclear scan involves the radiopharmaceutical. It demonstrates the function of the organs by showing the uptake and excretion of tracer by the actual cell. It can therefore detect disease at a much earlier stage. 

A very tiny amount of radioactive substance is taken which is completely harmless. There are many types of nuclear scan tests but they have one thing in common and that is a radioactive molecule. Images are taken to know in-depth about certain tumours, condition


or diseases, the camera used for this test is gamma, which detects emission from being radiated from the body. A radioactive tracer is given into the bloodstream through veins typically. But there are other ways of giving it, such as by giving it orally and through the nose with breathing. It takes images of bones also. Broad names are nuclear medicine, nuclear imaging, and radionuclide imaging. If a lady is pregnant and expecting a baby soon, this test is quite risky, so the doctor postpones the test if it is not extremely urgent. Also, if you are in a lactation ( breastfeeding period) and undergoing this test, make sure to stop feeding for 10 hours after the nuclear scan test. Getting any sort of allergy during or after the test happens very rarely and the liquid doesn’t stay in the body for a longer period, it flushes out immediately. 

Side Effects of Nuclear Scan test

Side effects of the nuclear scan are very rare, happens only in 1 in 10000 people. Side effects aren’t severe and require less to no medications. Some side effects are:

  • Skin Rash
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

But most of the time, people don’t experience anything and feel safe.

Thyroid Nuclear Scan

During this procedure, the doctor takes images of the thyroid gland with the help of radiopharmaceutical. An intravenous method is used to make a radioactive molecule enter your body. If your doctor has doubt about any serious condition related to the thyroid gland then he/she recommends this. Specific dangerous conditions like hyper and hypothyroidism, non-cancerous or cancerous cells, or masses in the gland can be detected through this test. Before the test radionuclide will be given to you in the form of an injection or orally. After that, you will have to wait for some minutes until it completely absorbs, and then the actual test starts. Then gamma camera precisely clicks the picture of the thyroid from different views. No movement is allowed during this period if the test is performed on the kid then the doctor will give him/her sedative or local anaesthesia, to make him/her remain still throughout the test. A thyroid nuclear scan takes 20-30 minutes. Side effects of thyroid nuclear scan are 

Heart Nuclear Scan

Specifically, the blood flow of the heart and its health is measured with nuclear stress scan. Broad names are myocardial perfusion test and thallium stress test. Advantages of heart nuclear scan are:

  • It checks the coronary artery disease
  • Heart blood pumping level 
  • Congenital heart defects
  • It also examines the size and shape of all the four chambers present in the heart
  • Observation of recent or existing heart treatment
  • The extent of muscle damage because of past major or minor heart attacks

The radionuclide is injected into the bloodstream before and after the exercise, to compare. So after injecting the liquid doctor tells the patient to perform any exercise with high intensity running, jogging, skipping, etc. The quantity of radionuclide is more when such intense activity is performed. Because of this reason, the heart nuclear scan test isalso known as a stress test. The best alternative is a chemical nuclear scan, a doctor recommends this test to patients with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis. 

Nuclear can for Kidney

This is also known as renal (kidney) nuclear scan. In this, a radiopharmaceutical substance is used to detect the kidneys. The broad names of this test are renal imaging and renogram. Radioisotope will be injected into your vein through the bloodstream. Gamma camera takes the picture of kidneys from various angles. The test helps to:

  • Extract urea and waste materials
  • To check Infection in the kidney
  • To keep the chemicals like potassium and sodium in a moderate quantity
  • To detect kidney diseases

Apart from these, it also gives a signal if your body isn’t accepting the transplanted kidney, balances the blood pressure level, checks the urine flow, ad supplies sufficient erythropoietin hormone. A doctor will inform you to drink the fluid in the abundance or he/she can tell you to flush out the urine for the test. In your arm, an injection will be given and a radioactive tracer will enter gently. 

Gallbladder Nuclear Scan

The test similar to the other tests like kidney, heart, and thyroid only difference is it is performed in the gallbladder. This test helps to detect the cause of jaundice, bile leakage, the reason for belly pain, etc. 

Precautions after the nuclear scan

It becomes necessary to drink more water or coconut water, to flush out the radioactive molecules from the body. You can continue normal routine activities. You can come in contact with anyone except small babies, it will be good if you stay away from old aged and babies for 2-3 days. 


The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. It is not intended to replace professional medical consultation, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any decisions regarding your health. Read more