A nuclear medicine scan uses small amounts of radiation to create pictures of tissues, bones, and organs inside the body. These scans are usually done at a nuclear medicine or radiology department at a hospital. A little bit of radioactive material will go into your body. Doctors call this material a radioactive “tracer,” radionuclide, or radiopharmaceutical. Hospital staff may inject this tracer or give it to you to swallow in a pill or inhale as a gas. The radioactive material is collected in certain areas of your body, and special cameras find the radiation and make images that help your medical team diagnose and treat cancer and other illnesses. It can take from a few seconds to several days for the tracer to collect in the part of the body that will get scanned.
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