Nuclear Medicine Lung Scan

What is a Lung Scan?

A nuclear medicine lung scan is a two phase study that allows the visualization of the air flow and blood flow to your lungs.

How is the examination performed?

A registered and certified Nuclear Medicine Technologist will perform your examination and can answer any questions you may have.  This exam is performed by having you inhale a small, safe amount of radioactive air as well as getting an injection of a small, safe amount of radioactive tracer that will travel in your blood stream.  A set of images is obtained during the inhalation and the injection.

Who is a candidate for a Lung Scan?

A nuclear medicine lung scan is usually done when patients are having difficulty breathing and there is a concern of the existence of a pulmonary embolism (PE).  A PE is simply a blood clot that has dislodged and traveled into your lungs.  This can cause difficulty breathing, pain, and death.  Sometimes this exam can also be done to evaluate for other lung disease.

Will I need to prepare for the exam?

No, but please do not wear any clothing that has metal snaps or clasps near the chest

What will I experience?

Your Nuclear Medicine Technologist will begin by placing a tourniquet on your arm to look for an IV site.  Once a vein is located, the technologist will clean your skin with alcohol and start an IV.  The Technologist will then either lay you down on the scanning table or sit you next to the scanner for your first scan.  The first scan done is the ventilation part; this is when you will have a small tube placed into your mouth.  You will be asked to close your mouth and just breathe in while the oxygen and radioactive air flows into the tubing.  After these images, the Technologist will inject you with the radioactive solution into the IV in your arm or hand.  Another set of images are taken and you will be done.  The imaging process will take about 30 minutes to complete.  Following the second set of images, your IV will be removed and you will be all done.

 What happens next?

Your images will be analyzed by the Technologist and the nuclear medicine computer and sent to the Radiologist’s computer for interpretation.

Your images will be interpreted by a State of New Mexico licensed and board certified Physician, Radiologist, that specializes in radiology interpretation.  A report will be dictated, transcribed, and faxed to the Physician that ordered your test.  Your Physician will receive the report within 24 hours and is responsible for notifying  you of the results.