What happens during a nuclear medicine procedure?A nuclear medicine procedure involves the use of a radioactive agent (radiopharmaceutical) and some sophisticated instruments. The procedure is safe. The only discomfort occurs only when we set an intravenous plug in your child’s hand or foot, and give a small injection of radiopharmaceutical.
Images are taken either immediately or within the next few hours, depending on the type of procedure required. Your child will lie on a couch and a gamma camera will take the images by picking up signals from the injected radiopharmaceutical in your child. The camera itself does not produce radiation.
What is a radiopharmaceutical? Is it safe?It is a chemical compound that contains a small and safe amount of radioactive substance with a very short half-life. That is, the substance ceases to be radioactive within a day. Please kindly alert us If the main caregiver of the child is an expecting mother.
Should my child be hospitalised for the procedure?No hospital stay is needed for the procedure. However, if your child is hospitalised on the appointment day, please tell the ward staff to inform the Department of Diagnostic Imaging.
Will my child be sedated for the procedure?Often, we need to sedate babies and children under seven years old to keep them still when the camera is taking the images. Keeping still is essential for clear imaging.
Who performs the procedure?A radiologist (a doctor specialising in radiology) will inject the radiopharmaceutical. A radiographer (a trained technologist) will control the camera and take the images. Afterwhich, the radiologist will analyse and report the images.
Who will tell us the result? And when?When the report is ready, the doctor in the clinic or ward will review it, together with the results of other tests that your child may have done. The doctor will discuss the findings with you during your child’s medical review.
Are there any special preparations for nuclear medicine procedures?To reduce his/her anxiety and gain his/her cooperation, please assure your child that the procedure is safe and relatively painless.
For babies and young children who need sedation fasting is necessary for their safety. The minimum fasting time is three hours before sedation. No food or drink is allowed during this time.
The last meal before sedation should be light, comprising a milk feed for babies, or one cup of milk, one slice of plain bread or two pieces of plain biscuits for older children. A heavy, oily meal will cause vomiting and severe complications.
For sedation to be safe, your child should be free from upper respiratory tract infection (eg. cough, cold, or flu). If your child is unwell, please call us to reschedule the procedure. If your child requires sedation, the mother, father or the legal guardian must accompany him/her to give written consent.
How long will the visit take?Please be prepared to spend a few hours for the nuclear medicine visit. The time required varies according to the type of examination needed. Please note the arrival time given and inform us if you are likely to be late. As your child may need to spend a few hours during the visit, you may wish to bring along his / her favourite book or toy. Bring along a milk feed if your child needs one after the scan. A stroller may also be helpful as your child may be tired and drowsy.
How soon should I inform the hospital if I need to reschedule the procedure?If your child is ill or you are unable to keep the appointment for other reasons, please inform us at least one working day in advance to reschedule the procedure. We do appreciate your early notice because the radiopharmaceutical is individually prepared for your child in a special laboratory outside the hospital and it must be discarded if not used, and would be charged into the billing accordingly.
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