Overview of the Nuclear Medicine Department
To schedule your appointment today, please call 616-685-4000.
The Nuclear Medicine Department at Mercy Health Saint Mary's offers a progressive service with the intent of offering the latest in nuclear medicine imaging technology and techniques to West Michigan.
Routine diagnostic studies include cardiac, brain, whole body, bone, spine, liver, thyroid and gastric imaging.
SPECT-CT services are also available in our department. SPECT-CT enables physicians to perform two different studies, diagnostic multislice CT and SPECT-CT, in one system. The addition of a multi-slice CT can sharpen the picture, aiding tumor localization and surgical planning. Collection of both sets of imaging data in the same exam increases the likelihood of 1:1 mapping and improved diagnostic accuracy.
DaTscan (for Parkinson’s Disease): Mercy Health Saint Mary’s is the only facility in West Michigan offering the DaTscan. DaTscan is a radiopharmaceutical indicated for striatal dopamine transporter visualization using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) brain imaging to assist in the evaluation of adult patients with suspected Parkinsonian Syndromes (PS). In these patients, DaTscan may be used to help differentiate ET (Essential Tremor) from tremor due to PS (Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease, multiple system atrophy, and progressive supranuclear palsy). Please click here to see one of our patient experiences.
Tumor Imaging and Therapeutic Treatments include Thyroid (I-131) therapies and ablation, Therasphere® (liver tumors), Bexxar (Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma), Zevalin (Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma), Strontium-89 (bone metastasis), and Samarium-153 (bone metastasis) therapies.
Nuclear Medicine also participates in clinical trials in partnership with our Research and Innovation Department.
How do I prepare for a procedure in the Nuclear Medicine Department?
Gallbladder Scan: Do not eat or drink anything four hours before your exam. This test will take approximately two to two-and-a-half hours to complete. Click here to print a gallbladder scan patient history questionnaire to complete prior to your appointment.
Bone Scan: No preparation required. Please bring any previous radiology exams (reports, films, CDs, etc.) that pertain to the area we are scanning (CT, MRI, X-ray) with you if they were not taken at Saint Mary’s. You will receive an injection and then have images taken three to five hours later. Click here to print a bone scan patient history to complete prior to your appointment.
Cardiac Scan: Do not have anything to eat or drink for four to six hours before your appointment. Avoid caffeine for 24 hours before your appointment. This test will take three to three-and-a-half hours to complete.
Thyroid Scan: Do not take any vitamins for three days before your exam. You will need to be off certain thyroid medications for two weeks. Please consult with your physician. You need to wait two to four weeks after receiving iodine contrast material (used in a CT scan) before having a thyroid scan. Click here to print a thyroid scan patient questionnaire to complete prior to your appointment.
Gastric Emptying: Have nothing to eat or drink for eight hours before your appointment. When you arrive at Saint Mary’s, you will eat an egg sandwich and then have images taken in timed intervals for four hours. Click here to print a gastric emptying patient history to complete prior to your appointment.
What can I expect during/after these procedures?
Upon arrival, a technologist will bring you to the Nuclear Medicine Department, explain your procedure and answer any questions you may have. In most cases, with the exception of a few exams, you will receive an injection of a radioactive isotope. The isotope injected should not make you sick, warm, sleepy or give you any side effects or reactions. Each isotope injected will concentrate in a specific part of your body, allowing our providers to take pictures. The isotope injected is radioactive so our machines will not produce any additional radiation, it will just take a picture of the distribution in your body.
Radiation exposure is relatively small and the radioactivity leaves your body through your urine. If needed, any special precautions will be given to you at the time of your exam. Duration of imaging times per procedure vary greatly. For specific information regarding your Nuclear Medicine procedure, please click here to visit RadiologyInfo.org.
Receiving Your Results
Your exam will be read by a board-certified radiologist. The report is usually transferred to your physician within one to two days, but additional time may be needed for your physician to review and correlate with other tests that you have had. If you have not heard anything within five business days after your exam, you can contact your physician.
Which Mercy Health locations offer this service?
Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Campus
200 Jefferson Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503 Map
Phone Number: 616-685-6206, option #4
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday
Emergencies covered by on-call providers after 4 p.m. and on weekends
If you would like additional information on Nuclear Medicine procedures and what to expect, please click here to visit RadiologyInfo.org. It is a great reference for patients and family members. This website also includes a discussion of relative radiation risk in diagnostic imaging.