Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine, which includes PET Scans and Bone Scans, is a branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose treat a variety of diseases.

About Nuclear Medicine Scans

During nuclear medicine imaging, small amounts of radioactive materials called radiotracers are injected into the bloodstream, inhaled, or swallowed.

The radiotracer travels through the area being examined and gives off energy in the form of gamma rays. These rays are detected by our imaging equipment, and a computer creates images of the inside of your body.


Nuclear medicine image tests are safe to use – the amount of nuclear exposure is very small, and you do not need to take any special precautions.


Because nuclear medicine procedures are able to pinpoint molecular activity within the body, they offer the potential to identify disease in its earliest stages as well as a patient’s immediate response to therapeutic interventions.

Types of Nuclear Scans

Nuclear scans are used to diagnose a wide variety of issues as well as test the function of various organs in the body. They can help identify many types of cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, endocrine disorders, neurological disorders, and other abnormalities.

Below are some common types of scans used in Nuclear Medicine.

PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography)

Often, a PET Scan can be used to detect:

  • Cancer
  • Heart problems such as damage from a heart attack or Coronary Artery Disease
  • Neurological problems like brain cancer and dementia

Prior to the PET Scan, a small amount of radioactive isotope is injected into a vein. This tracer travels throughout your blood vessels and gathers in organs and tissues. Once a PET Scan begins, the machine detects and records energy given off by the tracer. The computer can reconstruct this energy into 3D images that the radiologist will use to detect any problems.

Bone Scan

Bone Scans are used to detect changes in the various bones of the skeleton, either to track the progression of bone disease or detect other conditions such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Bone Cancer
  • Bone Death (Avascular Necrosis)
  • Bone Fracture
  • Bone Infection

Prior to the Bone Scan, a small amount of radioactive isotope is injected into a vein. The tracer travels to the areas of your skeleton that need repair. A tracer-sensitive camera will pass over your body, taking images that will be used to find abnormal areas of bone (“cold spots”) among healthy bone (“hot spots”).

Gallium Scan

Gallium Scans are used to detect inflammation throughout the body. This can help track the progression of certain conditions or help diagnose:

  • Lymphoma
  • Lung infections (Sarcoidosis) and lung damage
  • Bone infection (Osteomyelitis)

More than 24 hours prior to the scan, you will receive a small injection of the radioactive material Gallium Nitrate. The gallium nitrate binds with areas that are inflamed as well as areas where cells are actively dividing. A camera will take images of you that detects Gallium Nitrate. The image will show where where in your body that cells are dividing the most quickly.

Schedule Your Scan

PET/CT Services are offered on Tuesdays at Pascagoula Hospital and Wednesday at Ocean Springs Hospital. You will need a physician’s order and a pre-authorization based on your insurance policy. Ask your doctor about having your scans done at Singing River Health System, and call to make an appointment at (228) 809-2355.