Preparing For Your Nuclear Medicine Procedure

Nuclear medicine procedures are often covered by insurance plans, but you may be required to obtain authorization from your insurance provider prior to your exam.

Please download and print Nuclear Medicine Patient Preparation Instructions (PDF). You should call Fast Track Admissions prior to your exam date to pre-register. You may call up to 30 days in advance.

  • For exams scheduled at Emory University Hospital, call 404-686-5270 or 1-800-640-9293 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • For exams scheduled at Emory University Hospital Midtown, call 404-686-1573 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Fast Track Admissions may also be required for exams scheduled at The Emory Clinic. Please call 404-778-XRAY or ask your scheduler at the time you make your appointment.

Leading up to your exam:

  • Depending on the procedure, we may ask you not to eat and/or drink liquids other than water six hours prior to your appointment. In these cases, you should take medication with water only.
  • If you are diabetic, please call 404-712-4453 prior to your appointment for special instructions.
  • If you are breastfeeding at the time of your procedure, it may be prudent to pre-pump milk for use until the tracer is safely out of your body. Please discuss this with your ordering physician as well as our staff beforehand to receive specific instructions.
  • If available, bring any previous X-ray, CT and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) results and images with you to the imaging center.
  • Metal objects, such as jewelry and hairpins, may interfere with CT equipment and should be left at home.

The duration of your procedure will vary depending on the specific exam(s) or treatment(s) ordered.

The Day of Your Procedure

Plan to arrive 30 minutes before your appointment. Once at the imaging center, we will ask you about:

  • Your medical history
  • Any medications you take
  • Any medication allergies you have
  • Whether you are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant (if you are unsure if you are pregnant, we may give you a pregnancy test)

If your exam will include CT, we will ask you to remove any metal-containing items, such as jewelry (including earrings and body piercings), hairpins, hearing aids, glasses, wigs with metal clips and some nonpermanent dentures. We will also ask you to remove all objects from your pockets.

Following Your Procedure

Following a diagnostic scan, you should feel fine because there are generally no side effects from the injected compound. You may immediately return to your normal activities unless the technologist or your physician tells you otherwise. Following therapeutic procedures, please refer to the instructions we provided during your pre-exam consultation.

There is no danger to you or those around you following the procedure as a result of the radioactive tracer injection. The compounds that are used in nuclear medicine procedures lose their radioactivity and pass out of the body fairly quickly, mostly through your urine.

However, we will advise you to flush twice following urination and to wash your hands thoroughly for a period of time following the exam. Drinking plenty of water may help flush the tracer from your body.

If you are breastfeeding, we may instruct you to wait for up to 24 hours following the exam before breastfeeding again. Follow any specific instructions regarding breastfeeding you receive from your doctor or the imaging center staff.

On very rare occasions, patients may have allergic reactions to the tracers or contrasts used. For this reason, you should monitor your condition after you leave the imaging center and call your doctor immediately if any of the following occur:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Swollen or itchy eyes
  • Tightness in the throat
  • Trouble breathing

These reactions are very rare and would usually occur at the time of administration.

If you underwent an imaging procedure, your referring doctor will contact you once the results are available and ready for review. Critical results will be called to the referring physician immediately. Results that are not critical will be available to your physician's office within four business days.