Nuclear medicine

Nuclear medicine tests at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula show the inside of your body with excellent clarity. This type of imaging can detect diseases as early as possible, when treatment works best.

Accredited testing

You’ll benefit from our highly trained, experienced staff and thorough quality measures meant to ensure safety and accuracy. Community Hospital holds accreditation in nuclear medicine from the American College of Radiology, which reviews our facilities regularly.

What is nuclear imaging?

Nuclear medicine uses radioactive material, a special camera, and a computer to create detailed images. Instead of delivering radiation from a machine, nuclear imaging puts a very low, safe dose of radiation into your body. The radiation gives off energy that shows up on the camera.

Why do I need nuclear imaging?

Your doctor may order a nuclear medicine test to:

  • Check how well your heart, kidneys, or thyroid gland work
  • Find gallbladder inflammation (swelling)
  • Learn more about problems affecting your brain, such as seizures, memory loss, or slowed blood flow
  • Scan your lungs for breathing or blood flow problems
  • Look for the spread of cancer in your body

Types of nuclear medicine tests

At Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, you have access to exams such as:

Before scheduling an exam

Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are sick
  • Could be pregnant
  • Have a history of asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or a thyroid condition

What to expect

Ask your care team any questions you have about your procedure so you feel informed and prepared.

Getting ready

Follow the instructions you receive to prepare for your exam. You should:

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may need to change into a gown when you arrive
  • Take off jewelry, glasses, hairpins, and any other accessories with metal before the test

Radioactive material

Depending on your type of test, you may swallow or breathe in the tasteless radioactive material. If you get an injection of it through a vein in your wrist, a cool feeling may spread up your arm.

The material can take anywhere from several minutes to a few days to settle in the area of your body under examination. You may need to come back to the imaging center later to take images.

During the nuclear imaging test

To ensure clear images, stay as still as possible during the exam, unless your technician asks you to change positions.

Tests other than PET

If your test isn’t a PET scan, a gamma camera will move around you, sometimes very close to your body. The scanning usually takes about 20 minutes. You may get several scans over a few hours or days so your doctor can compare images taken at different times.

PET/CT exams

For a PET/CT scan, you’ll receive the CT imaging first. The PET scan will happen next and last for about 20 minutes, depending on the area of your body under examination.

After your test

Unless your care team tells you otherwise, you can return to your normal daily activities after your nuclear imaging exam. The radioactive material in your body will naturally leave your body when you use the restroom.

Radiation safety

Rely on our nuclear medicine team to help keep you or your child safe by using the least radiation needed to create clear images. Montage Health imaging locations follow the American College of Radiology’s Image Gently and Image Wisely guidelines to:

  • Avoid unnecessary imaging tests
  • Use no more radiation than required

Getting test results

If you have an online MyChart account, you’ll likely see your test results in the patient portal within 24 hours. Your doctor will call to explain them and discuss next steps. Wait until you talk to your doctor before trying to understand what they mean.

Talk to your doctor

You’ll need a healthcare provider’s referral to receive radiology and imaging services from Montage Health. Once you have a doctor’s order, call (831) 649-7231 to schedule your test.

Sign up for MyChart

Manage your health easily and securely through our free MyChart patient portal. You can:

  • Access medical records, test results, and test prep instructions
  • Contact your care team
  • Get cost estimates
  • Pay bills

Sign up

Learn more about MyChart

Related locations

Choose an imaging location near you in Monterey County to see its available tests and hours of operation. Some locations offer convenient, extended hours for MRI and ultrasound exams.