Zwanger-Pesiri's nuclear medicine department combines the latest advances in technology with highly trained radiologists, cardiologists, nurses and nuclear technologists. We have a long-standing reputation for excellence in diagnostic nuclear imaging on Long Island, and offer this test in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.
At ZP, we offer Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) imaging, which uses special cameras to visualize the functioning of internal organs, as well as the body's anatomy through 3-dimensional images.
What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine is a medical specialty that is used to diagnose and treat diseases in a safe and painless way. It is called nuclear medicine because it refers to medicine (a pharmaceutical) that is attached to a small amount of a radioactive substance (a radioisotope). The radiopharmaceutical, together with special imaging technology, enables doctors to determine the cause of a medical problem based on the structure and function, not just the anatomy of organs, tissues and bones.
Nuclear diagnostic procedures help doctors gather specific medical information about a patient that might otherwise be unavailable, require surgery or possibly require invasive and expensive diagnostic tests. The benefit of identifying abnormalities very early in the progression of a disease makes nuclear medicine an invaluable tool in the diagnostic process.
Nuclear medicine can be used to detect and evaluate a number of disorders including tumors, irregular or inadequate blood flow, and inadequate functioning of organs like the thyroid, heart, lungs, gallbladder, liver and kidneys.
How does Nuclear Medicine work?
During a nuclear medicine scan, a small amount of a radioactive material or radiopharmaceutical is introduced into your body either intravenously or orally and is given time to be absorbed by the cells. A specially developed camera records images and measures the accumulation of the radiopharmaceutical. Higher chemical activity can correspond to areas of disease or “hot spots” on the study. For some studies, the activity of the radiopharmaceutical can indicate how well an organ is functioning.
How do I prepare?
The specific test that you are having will determine the preparation required. Be sure to review the instructions given by the Zwanger-Pesiri representative, as well as your doctor, when scheduling your appointment. Some procedures require that you fast while others require no special preparation at all.
Bring with you to the appointment:
- Prescription from your doctor.
- Current insurance card.
- Authorization number from your insurance carrier.
- Any forms you completed at home.
- Credit card or cash for your insurance co-pay.
- Any relevant imaging studies that you have from another facility, including the reports. We like to compare the PET/CT with any previous studies to assist in the diagnostic process.
- Picture identification.
Plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time.
What do I do when I arrive?
Present your prescription, insurance card and completed forms at the front desk. If any additional forms are required, they will be given to you at this time.
Be sure to inform the receptionist and technologist if you:
Plan to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
What happens during the test?
Any metal near the area being scanned must be removed including jewelry, eyeglasses, belt buckles and any clothing with metal zippers or buttons. Metal interferes with the quality and accuracy of the images captured during the scan. You may be asked to change into a gown.
For most exams, the radiopharmaceutical will be administered through an I.V. Some exams require it to be taken orally. The radiotracer must circulate through your body for a certain amount of time, depending on the type of study. This can take anywhere from half an hour to several hours. The radiopharmaceutical is absorbed by both normal and abnormal tissue, according to their metabolic rate.
You will then be brought into the exam room and asked to lie down on the scanning table. A specialized nuclear medicine camera will slowly move over the area of your body being studied and will never touch you. Be sure to remain as still as possible to ensure the best possible images. Depending on the specific study, your scan may take from 30 minutes up to two hours.
Once all of the images have been recorded, the nuclear camera will move away and the technologist will return to assist you off the table.
Increase your fluid intake for the next 24 hours to help flush the radiopharmaceutical out of your system. Depending on the type of exam, you may be required to stop breast feeding or limit your contact with pregnant women and small children.
What happens after the test?
One of our board certified nuclear medicine physicians and/or radiologists interprets your images, compares them to any previous studies and dictates a report which is transcribed, proofread and signed. The report is then faxed and mailed to your referring doctor within one or two days. Your doctor will read the report and review the findings with you.