01.10 Nuclear Medicine

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Included In This Lesson



  1. Nuclear medicine
    1. Radioactive material
    2. Gamma camera
    3. Diagnose or treat

Nursing Points


  1. Radioactive material (radiotracers)
    1. Injected into bloodstream
    2. Inhaled
    3. Swallowed
  2. Travels to areas of high metabolism
  3. Create gamma rays
    1. Seen with special camera
    2. Lights up in picture
  4. Three dimensional pictures
  5. Procedures like radiation
  6. Indications
    1. Suspected cancer
    2. Heart disease
    3. GI issues
    4. Endocrine disease
    5. Neurological disease
  7. Purpose
    1. Identify disease early
    2. Find location
    3. Sometimes treatment


  1. Before
    1. Explain procedure
    2. Consent
    3. Check doctor orders for diet

Therapeutic Management

  1. During
    1. Protective wear
  2. After
    1. Radioactive lasts about 24 hours (will be checked by physicist)
    2. Handle urine, feces, and blood with care
    3. Label specimens as radioactive
    4. Minimize contact (no pregnant women)

Nursing Concepts

  1. Patient Education
    1. Precautions after radiation
  2. Safety
    1. Precautions after radiation

Patient Education

  1. Radiologist will interpret results
  2. Drink fluids often to flush radiation from body
  3. Flush twice and avoid splashes


Hey guys! Welcome to the lesson on nuclear medicine.

So nuclear medicine uses radioactive material or radiotracers that are put into a patient’s body. They might be injected into the bloodstream inhaled, or swallowed. The radiotracers will then travel to areas in the body of high metabolism, like cancer for example. This material creates gamma rays that are able to be seen with the special gamma camera so that they light up in the three dimensional picture. Here’s a picture showing the thyroid gland lighting due to cancer. Nuclear medicine also performs procedures like radiation to treat disease like thyroid cancer. Let’s explore reasons a patient would have this done. 

So nuclear medicine may be used in cases where there is suspected cancer somewhere in the body to help find it. It may be used with heart disease, GI issues, endocrine disease, or neurological disease as well to find problem areas. Nuclear medicine helps to identify disease early. Now let’s talk about the procedure. 

Before the procedure, let the patient know what to expect and what the risks are. Obtain a signed consent before the procedure begins. Look for diet orders because the patient may need to be NPO the day of the procedure. It’s very important to wear protective wear during the procedure involving radioactive material that can be damaging over time. 

So after the procedure, special care has to be taken to protect you and other staff from the radiation. Handle body fluid like urine and blood with special care. There are special gloves that your facility should provide to help protect your skin from the chance of contact. Label specimens as radioactive. Minimize contact with the patient, and don’t allow pregnant women to enter the room. Radioactive material will last about 24 hours, but will be checked by a physicist and monitored. Let’s discuss patient education. 

Let the patient know that the radiologist will interpret the results. Ask them to drink plenty of fluids to help flush the radiation from their body. Ask them to always flush the toilet twice and avoid splashes. 

The priority nursing concepts for the patient with nuclear medicine are patient education and safety.

Alright, let’s review the key points. Nuclear medicine uses radioactive material to diagnose or treat. Radiotracers are injected, swallowed, or inhaled into the body and they travel to areas of high metabolism like disease or cancer. Nuclear medicine is used when there is suspected cancer, heart disease, or endocrine disorders. Before the procedure, explain it to the patient and get a consent. Wear protective wear so that your aren’t exposed to the radiation. After the procedure, be careful to protect yourself when handling bodily fluids and minimize contact with the patient. No pregnant women should be around the patient. Ask the patient to drink plenty of fluids to flush the radiation from the body and always flush the toilet twice to minimize radiation exposure. 

Okay guys, that’s it on nuclear medicine! Now go out and be your best self today, and as always, happy nursing!