Nuclear medicine is a diagnostic imaging specialty that assesses the condition of organ systems or body functions. During the exam a small amount of a radioactive tracer (called a radiopharmaceutical) is given to the patient and special cameras are used to take pictures of your body.
We encourage you to read over the following booklet provided by the Society of Nuclear Medicine, What Is Nuclear Medicine?. It addresses many questions patients often have about nuclear medicine as a diagnostic tool, its safety and the concerns about radiation involved with many of the tests. Since the procedures practiced in our own department may be slightly different from the internet-based booklet we recommend that you review the information about tests the nuclear medicine department provides below.
Click here to view the nuclear medicine brochure.
Location and Contact Information
To make a nuclear medicine test or scan appointment at the Markham site, please visit the Make an Appointment page.
To make a bone mineral density test appointment at the Uxbridge site, please call 905 852 9771 ext. 5249.
We suggest parking in the main hospital parking lot, opposite the Link Lobby Entrance and Medical Office Building, when visiting diagnostic services.
Please go to the central registration desk on the main floor of Building A, before heading to diagnostic services on the second floor in Building B where you'll be directed to the nuclear medicine waiting room.
Diagnostic services is located in Uxbridge Cottage Hospital – 4 Campbell Drive, Uxbridge.
Note: the bone mineral density test (BMD) is currently the only nuclear medicine test available at Uxbridge Cottage Hospital. All other tests or procedures must take place at the Markham site.
For more information on parking at the Markham or Uxbridge sites, please click here.
Nuclear medicine tests may be performed by a radiologist or other specially-trained physicians. The following tests and scans are available through nuclear medicine:
Your physician will order this test for the following reasons:
- Diagnosing the presence or extent of coronary artery disease (CAD), especially for patients with diabetes;
- Follow up to a positive cardiac stress test, with or without symptoms
- To rule out a myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- Assessing the blood flow through the coronary blood vessels (arteries of the heart) before and/or after bypass, grafts or angioplasty
- Assessing the heart condition in patients with risk factors for heart disease, such as family history, smoking, obesity, diabetes, undiagnosed chest pain, and/or positive stress test.
- Completing a heart "risk assessment" before surgery and as a follow up after cardiac surgery
On the day of your cardiac stress test, please exclude caffeine products, alcohol and smoking. Caffeine products include: coffee and tea (decaffeinated and caffeinated), chocolate, cocoa, soda, pop and any medication or supplements that may have caffeine. If you are taking heart or blood pressure medications, check with your physician whether you are to stop the medication before the test. Certain medications, such as "beta blockers", should be discontinued for a period of time before arriving for the test (normally 48 hours). Since every patient may be having this test for a different reason, you must confirm with your doctor which medicine is appropriate and safe for you to stop before arriving for your heart test, as well as how long the medicine should be stopped. If you are scheduled for a Persantine stress test, please stop taking Theophylline at your physician's request.
You must not have consumed any caffeine products for 24 hours before your test appointment, as this jeopardizes the quality of your test. If you arrive having consumed caffeine products within 24 hours, your procedure will be cancelled and rescheduled to the next available routine booking date.
Please do not engage in strenuous exercise (brisk walking or jogging) on the day of your test. We need you rested. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable, short-sleeved exercise clothing (t-shirt and shorts or jogging pants) and rubber-soled shoes (running shoes). Do not wear a dress or skirt. Women should wear a bra for exercise. Please do not wear jewellery or perfume for your test.
You should not eat for three to four hours prior to the test; however water and juice are permitted before arriving. If you are diabetic, you may have a light snack (toast and juice) two hours prior to your test if needed to stabilize your blood sugar levels.
You should allow four to five hours for your test.
There are two parts to a myocardial perfusion test. The scan part is performed by a nuclear medicine technologist. The stress test part is performed by a cardiology technologist. A physician will supervise the stress component of the test.
During your test, we will insert an intravenous into your arm which will deliver an injection of Cardiolite (a radiopharmaceutical agent used in nuclear medicine for imaging procedures) before we scan you with a camera for 20 minutes. We will then accompany you to the cardiorespiratory stress lab for the stress portion of your test.Our cardiology technologist will prepare you for your stress test. A physician will inject Cardiolite while you are on the treadmill. For a Persantine stress test, you will have the injection at rest. In both cases, you will then go to our nuclear medicine department for a scan, after the exercise Persantine portion of the test is complete.
Please note that Persantine could cause headache or nausea and Cardiolite could result in a metallic taste in your mouth.
Remember that it is important not to dismiss symptoms that may be suspicious of heart attack or stroke. Be Heart Smart! See Heart Disease Warning Signs for more information.
What You Should Know
Preparation varies depending on the nuclear medicine test or scan that you are having. Please see the specific scan or test below for preparation instructions.
You may have to fast or avoid caffeine products before your visit. You may also have to stop taking certain medications prior to your test. Caffeine products include: coffee and tea (decaffeinated and caffeinated), chocolate, cocoa, soda, pop and any medication or supplements that may have caffeine.
Before Your Visit
Please check under Care Providers for the specific test you are having to see if any preparation, such as fasting or avoiding caffeine products, is required. Please do not wear jewellery or perfume on the day of your test.
Please arrive 30 minutes before your test to register at diagnostic services registration. Please bring your health card and your requisition (if your physician has provided you with one).
During Your Visit
Please see the specific test or scan under Care Providers that you are having for what to expect during your visit.
After Your Visit
Please see the specific test or scan under Care Providers that you are having for what to expect after your visit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Click here to view aftercare of tests or procedures using barium during the examination.
Click here to learn more about contrast solutions.
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