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At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test and invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the scan and how you can help.
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Your child’s doctor may recommend that the scan be done under sedation so your child is able to stay completely still for the whole test. That means your child will be given medication to make him or her sleep during the entire scan.
A nuclear medicine test uses small amounts of a special liquid known as a radiopharmaceutical to look at and to treat diseases. Nuclear medicine tests are safe and give doctors pictures of the human body using a special camera.
Other radiology tests, such as MRI and CT scans, take detailed pictures of the body. Nuclear medicine scans can show changes taking place inside the body that other tests cannot. These detailed pictures of the body’s functions help doctors evaluate a problem, choose the best treatment, or see how well a treatment is working.
The radiopharmaceutical is given either by an IV line directly into a vein; by breathing it in; by a catheter placed into the bladder; or by eating a solid or liquid meal before the test. Once it reaches the part of the body that is being tested, the radioactive substance sends signals that can be read by the nuclear medicine camera. The amount of radioactivity that your child will receive is about the same as the radiation in other radiology tests, such as CT scans or X-rays.
If sedation has been ordered for your child, there are important rules for eating and drinking that must be followed in the hours before the test.
There are several types of nuclear medicine tests. Depending on the type of nuclear medicine test being done, your child may be given the radiopharmaceutical either by an IV line directly into a vein; by breathing it in; by a catheter placed into the bladder; or by eating a solid or liquid meal before the test.
Nuclear medicine tests are done at the Department of Pediatric Radiology of Children’s Hospital by a nuclear medicine technologist. In the room will be a nuclear medicine technologist and sometimes a pediatric radiology nurse. You will also see a table and a nuclear medicine camera. The lights will be dim inside the room.
We welcome your help and support during this test. One parent or guardian is invited to join your child in the scan room. Other adults and children must stay in the waiting area.
After the nuclear medicine scan, the quality of the pictures will be checked by a radiology doctor. Once the quality is approved, then the test is complete. A report of your child’s scan will be sent to the doctor who ordered it, usually within 48 hours. If the results are urgent, the referring doctor will be contacted immediately.
If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the doctor performing the scan needs to know about, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s before the test and ask to speak with a nurse. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs.
Preparing your child beforehand, as well as comforting your child during the test, will help your child have a more positive experience. Sometimes it is difficult to know how to explain tests to children. If you have any questions about ways to prepare or support your child, or if feel your child will have difficulty during the test, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s and ask to speak with the Child Life Specialist.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
With MyCHP, you can request appointments, review test results, and more.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Support the hospital by making a donation online, joining our Heroes in Healing monthly donor program, or visiting our site to learn about the other ways you can give back.