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FAQ: Nuclear Medicine

How do I schedule a Nuclear Medicine appointment?
All of our procedures require a prescription from a referring physician. Your physician will order an imaging procedure for you and will fax that order to us. Alternatively, your doctor might give you the paper copy. You can then call us to schedule an appointment at (805) 563-5870. It is important to read the prescription exactly as it is written in order to be sure the correct exam is performed.
How do I obtain a copy of my exam images or report?
For a copy of your report or a CD of your images, call (805) 563-5870. We offer free copies of your images on a PC-compatible CD-Rom.

If you are requesting your films for a physician to examine, please have the name of that physician handy when you call. Note: this should be the physician who will be looking at the films, and not necessarily your referring physician. For example, your primary care doctor might have referred you to a specialist who needs to see your images. It is the name of the specialist which is needed, not the name of your primary care physician.
When should I arrive for my appointment?
When we give you an appointment time, this includes the time required for registration. There is no need to arrive before your scheduled time. Different procedures require different amounts of time beforehand. In addition, some require lab tests which might need to be performed before your scan (most of these can be done in advance and need not be done on the day of your exam).
If you were not given or have misplaced your arrival-time information, please call (805) 563-5870.
What do I need to do to prepare for my exam?
Different procedures require different preparations. Some require no preparation, while others may require a specific diet or an alteration to your medications. You should consult your referring physician about what is needed before your exam. (Never make a change to your medications unless instructed to do so by your physician.) If you have any questions, please call (805) 563-5870.

Some exams also require lab tests to be done in advance. Your doctor should inform you of these and see that they are performed in advance of the day of your scan.

We do recommend that you wear comfortable clothing which can be removed easily in case your procedure requires you to change into a hospital gown. Though we do not anticipate a long waiting period before your exam, we do recommend that you bring a favorite book, magazine or music player to help you pass the time.

More information on our exams can be found here: Nuclear Medicine Tests.
What equipment do you have?
We work hard to keep on top of the latest developments in imaging technology. We have the most current imaging equipment, some of it right on the cutting edge. In some cases we have the only equipment of its kind in Southern California.

In addition to our high-tech imaging machines, we are also at the forefront of image storage programs. Instead of printing off film, we use an electronic storage system. This means that anyone within the imaging system who has the authorization to do so, can access the images at any time; it means that different physicians can look at images simultaneously, and it means that there is less of a chance that images might get lost or misfiled.

For more information about our Imaging Technologies click here.
Is a radiologist a physician?
Yes. A radiologist is a physician who has chosen to specialize in imaging (radiology is a specialty in the same way that orthopedics is a specialty). After attending medical school, radiologists spend several years in a residency training program studying images and imaging technologies. Our nuclear medicine physician has gone beyond his residency to further study in a particular sub-field of radiology. Radiologists must also pass board examinations and take classes every year to keep up to date on current discoveries in medicine. Our physician is board-certified in nuclear cardiology and nuclear medicine.
What is an X-ray?
An X-ray uses a high-energy light wave and a photographic plate to take a picture of a body. An X-ray is particularly good at showing bones and some organs (such as the lungs).
What is a fluoroscope?
A fluoroscope is a type of X-ray machine that takes multiple pictures - like a movie. This allows an imaging physician to see how your body acts when in motion or during a procedure. Like an X-ray, a fluoroscope is particularly good at showing bones and some organs.
What is a CT scan?
A CT (computed tomography) or CAT scan uses X-ray technology and sophisticated computers to create highly detailed pictures of a body. It is good at seeing both hard structures (such as bone) and at seeing soft tissues (such as the liver or lungs). A CT is particularly good at detecting tumors, blood clots and problems with blood vessels.
What is an ultrasound?
Ultrasound uses soundwaves to see inside a body. It is exactly like sonar used by ships to see objects in the water. Soundwaves go into the body and bounce off the tissue and bone. A computer then interprets the echoes and produces an image of the body. Ultrasound is often used for imaging internal organs and blood vessels.
What is an MRI?
An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses a magnetic field to see inside a body. It is particularly good at showing soft tissue. It is used to examine the structures around bones and joints and for examining various organs, such as the heart.

Though the technical workings of an MRI machine are highly complex, the science upon which it is based is fairly straightforward. If water molecules are placed in a magnetic field, they will align with that field in exactly the same way that a compass needle aligns with the Earth's north pole. This alignment can be detected by the MRI scanner. The MRI uses this information to create pictures of the body, showing areas of high or low water content. For example, the walls of an artery will appear different from the blood flowing through it because the water content of the two things is different. The scanner can convert these differences into images.
What is nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology or a PET scan?
Nuclear medicine or nuclear cardiology scans (for example, positron emission tomography, or PET) use a radioactive isotope to trace the activity or inactivity of the cells in a body. It can detect damaged or nonfunctioning areas and is particularly good at showing the brain, at examining cancer cell activity, or showing damaged parts of organs (such as the heart).

If your question wasn’t answered, please call 805-682-7300.