A radiotracer is a substance with a radioactive tag (such as Technetium), which mimics a normal substance in the body to asses different organs or systems. Each radiotracer can show us different body functions and parts. The radiotracer will take time to reach or pass through the area of the body to be examined. The time required is difference for every tracer and system.
Most of the radiotracers are based on the isotope technetium, which has a short (6 hours) half life and is excreted rapidly by the body after your examination. These timing differences determine the specific scheduling of each examination. Radiotracers do involve tiny doses of radiation and do not cause any side effects during their passage through the body. Most of the compounds used are quickly eliminated from the body. The amount of radiation for a single scan is low, and frequently repeated scans are only used when there is a clear benefit to outweigh the slight risks of repeated radiation exposure.
Many examinations are undertaken in two (or sometimes more) parts. The initial part involves an injection into a vein and sometimes some preliminary pictures. Later more detailed pictures are taken and sometimes a series of images are captures as the tracer passes through the organ system. In some of the test procedures additional activities are undertaken to test the performance of a given organ or system. For example, you may be asked to exercise for cardiac testing.
You may also be given a drug to make your kidneys excrete urine or to maximise blood flow to your heart or brain. Sometimes a test is done before and after such an activity.
Dr Iain Duncan is one of Australia’s earliest adopters of SPECT-CT, which combines nuclear medicine with CT images.
Our bone images show detail that exceeds all other systems Iain has used. This allows us to give you and your doctor more information with lower X-ray.
The information and images obtained from the examination are compiled and analysed by Dr Iain Duncan and our specialist technologist Nick Ingold using sophisticated software. Dr Iain Duncan will interpret the scans in relation to the particular clinical problem. He may talk to and examine the patient to obtain as much background information as possible. Finally a report is used regarding the entire procedure and scan findings. This is usually a critical input into both the patient’s diagnosis and/or their doctor’s ongoing treatment and clinical management.