Nuclear Medicine

Specialized diagnostic testing

Diagnostic Experts to Support Your Care Team

Nuclear medicine is a specialized area of radiology that uses tiny amounts of radioactive material called a radiopharmaceutical or radiotracer. Experts at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Milton use nuclear medicine testing to:

  • Diagnose disease.
  • Examine organ function.
  • Locate infection.

Depending on the type of nuclear exam that you need, you will receive the radiotracer either by injection or orally. A specialized gamma camera detects the radiotracer and takes images of the bone, organ or tissue.

Nuclear medicine differs from X-Ray or Ultrasound exams. It helps your doctor diagnose your health condition based on physiological (functional) or biological changes rather than changes in anatomy (structure of your body).

Safety Information

Nuclear medicine procedures are among the safest imaging exams. Because the amount of radiotracer that you receive is small, your exposure to radiation is very low. The amount of radiation from a nuclear medicine procedure is comparable to — and often less than — that of a routine X-ray. 

Our technologists customize each dose and test to your needs, so you receive as little radiation as possible without compromising the image results. The radiotracer passes through the body naturally and loses its radioactivity usually within 24 hours.


Our nuclear medicine team offers testing:

  • Monday to Friday: 6:30 am – 4:30 pm
  • On call: 4:30 pm – 7:00 am

Preparing for Your Nuclear Medicine Exam

Get informed on what to expect leading up to, during and after your test.

Before Your Exam

Depending on the type of nuclear medicine test you have, you may need to follow specific preparation instructions. If so, your testing team provides them when you schedule your exam.

In general, you should inform the radiologist of any medications you currently take and also any known allergies.

Many exams don’t require fasting.  If your exam requires fasting, you’ll be informed when you schedule the test.

During Your Exam

You lie down on the exam table. A technologist inserts an intravenous (IV) line into your arm or hand, then injects the radiotracer into the IV. The radiotracer travels through your body to the area being examined.

Depending on the procedure, your exam may begin immediately, a few hours later or several days after receiving the radiotracer. When the exam begins, the specialized camera takes a series of images. The camera may rotate above and below you or scan the length of your body. The technologist may ask you to change positions between images.

Exams vary in length of time. Depending on your specific procedure, exams may take 30 minutes to several hours and may be conducted over a few days. Your testing team will provide specific details on what to expect for your type of test when you schedule the exam.

After Your Exam

A doctor from nuclear medicine reviews your test results and discusses them with your doctor. Your doctor will then explain the results to you.

Make an Appointment

Conditions We Treat

Your BID Milton provider may recommend that you undergo a nuclear medicine test to help diagnose a health condition. You may need nuclear medicine testing for any of these body functions or areas:

  • Abnormal blood flow to the heart
  • Blood circulation to the brain
  • Bone disease or tumor
  • Bone pain or inflammation
  • Breast cancer
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Kidney function
  • Thyroid function
  • Thyroid nodule or mass

Services & Specialties

Providers from departments across BID Milton may order nuclear medicine tests as part of your diagnosis or treatment plan. We collaborate with these teams to help get you on your way to improved health.