Nuclear Medicine is a medical specialty that involves the administration of a small amount of a radioactive medication into the patient. The radioactive medication is most commonly injected into the blood stream via a vein, but it may be given to the patient in many different ways including:

  • swallowed
  • injected directly into the tissue beneath the skin, or
  • inhaled. 


Nuclear Medicine is different from X-ray and CT examinations because an X-ray study demonstrates what something looks like and this gives indirect information about how it is working: normally, abnormally, diseased, injured, etc. In Nuclear Medicine studies, the radiopharmaceutical usually only gets to the body part or organ system if it has some function. The Nuclear Medicine study therefore shows how something is working and from the images the Nuclear Medicine specialist is often also able to gain information about what the body part or organ system looks like.  Nuclear Medicine and X-ray tests are therefore often complementary, providing different information that together make a diagnosis more certain.


This will depend on the type of nuclear medicine scan that is requested. Preparations for different examinations vary between practices so please ask your receptionist for information regarding the preparation for your examination. However, it is important that you let staff at the practice where you are having the scan done know if you are (or think you could be) pregnant or are breast feeding.

during your examination

Before you have the examination, the Nuclear Medicine Technologist will ask you questions about why you have come for the scan. They will then explain the procedure you are having in detail and answer any questions you have before they start the examination.  For some examinations, a cannula (thin plastic tube) will be inserted into your vein and will stay in the vein for the duration of the test.  You will receive a small injection of a radiopharmaceutical either into a vein or the cannula. Sometimes, the injection may be followed immediately by images being taken with a gamma camera while sometimes you will be asked to return some time after having the injection to have ”delayed images”.  The reason for the length of time between the injection and the “delayed” images is to give the radiopharmaceutical a chance to be absorbed into the organ we are trying to visualise.

available at these locations

Brisbane CBD