In the case of nuclear medicine examinations the functional information is of greater importance and the morphological information not so important. The distribution of the radiopharmaceutical in the body or body parts is documented in images, which are recorded with a so-called gamma camera (conventional scintigraphy) or the PET scanner (Positron emission tomography). By measuring blood and urine activity the expulsion of this substance can be used diagnostically. During scintigraphy with the gamma camera the patient mostly lies on an examination bed, whereby the detector head of the gamma camera is positioned above or below the person; sometimes also in sitting position in front of the gamma camera. Normally there is no need to remove any items of clothing. The patient must be able to sit or lie quietly for a period of 5 to 60 minutes, depending on the type of examination.
PET scanners are nowadays combined with computer tomography equipment (PET/CT equipment) or magnetic resonance tomography equipment (PET/MRT equipment). The patient is likewise examined here in a recumbent position which takes around 15 to 90 minutes depending on the type of examination. For a scintigraphy examination the patient is moved to another bed on special examination tables of the gamma camera or PET scanner. Should you have concerns about relocating to the examination couch, in that case contact the Clinic for Nuclear Medicine before making an appointment for the examination.
A gamma camera or a PET scanner is a very bulky piece of equipment which impresses or unsettles many patients. It works to a different principle to x-ray equipment, whereby an intensive x-ray beam penetrates the patient and illuminates the film behind it for a short while. In contrast to this the gamma camera of a PET scanner records the radiation, which is released by the patient because of the application of the radiopharmaceutical, over a longer period of time. For standard recordings the detector head of the gamma camera does not move once it is in position for the recording. In the case of "Single Photon Emission (computed) tomography (SPECT)" the detector head of the gamma camera moves around the person under examination. These technologies facilitate a spatial presentation of the activity distribution in the body. Such examinations sometimes last longer and require that the patient sit or lie still for a longer period of time; the staff is present and cares for the patients throughout the examination.