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Having your pictures taken in Nuclear Medicine can take between 15 to 45 minutes – depending on what type of pictures they are. Sometimes you will need to wait for a few hours between your pictures too.
The person who takes your pictures is called a Nuclear Medicine Technologist. They'll let you know everything that you need to do and can answer any questions you might have!
Other people you might meet are: a nurse, a play therapist, or the doctor who looks at your pictures (a radiologist).
The nuclear medicine camera is pretty big, but it needs to be so it can take pictures of your whole body!
The camera is the 2 squares that move around you to take the picture – they need to come close to you, but won’t touch you. If you like, you can add some stickers to them before you get started!
There's also a bed to lie on – we'll use some seat belts, like in your car, to help keep you safe.
Most pictures in Nuclear Medicine need something called a 'tracer'. This is a special liquid that helps the pictures come out clearly.
It's really important to keep still while having your picture taken. If you move around, the picture comes out blurry. It's still okay to breathe and blink normally and stay relaxed. You will need to keep still so you can watch the movie that you choose too!
There can be a lot of waiting around, so it's a good idea to bring some things to keep you busy – an iPad, books, or other activities that don't need too much space. If you have a favourite stuffed toy, they can come with you - and have their picture taken too! You can also bring your favourite movie to watch while having your pictures taken!
The best clothes to wear are comfy ones! It's a good idea to wear a short sleeved top – as you might need to take your jumper off for your pictures. But you can still wear your jumper or jacket over the top until it's time for your pictures to start.
Before your appointment, check the requirements of your child's scan on their appointment letter. If there is anything you are unsure of or don't understand, please contact Medical Imaging reception on 03 9345 5255.
If you have concerns about your child's ability to undergo imaging, you may request the services of an educational play therapist. Play therapists are trained to assess and prepare children for imaging and can also provide distraction during your child's scan. Note that appointments book up quickly, so please request this service in advance, as the play therapist may not be available on the day. Please contact Medical Imaging reception on 03 9345 5255.
It is important to be honest but considerate of your child's developmental level. It is a good idea to explain to your child why they need the scan. Children over the age of 5 generally cope best when they are informed of their procedure the week prior, and are given the opportunity to process the information and ask questions. Children under 5 are best told about their appointment the day before. You are encouraged to explore the Okee app games and to discuss the content with your child before their appointment.
All Nuclear Medicine images require administration of a radioactive tracer, and most require a cannula (small straw) inserted into a vein with a needle.
Sometimes the technologist might suggest using sedation, which is a special medicine to help your child feel more relaxed.
If your child is assessed as being unable to undergo their imaging awake, they may need to be rebooked for a general anaesthetic (GA).