What to expect during a nuclear radiology procedure?

Before and during the procedure, a child-life specialist can help your child relax and feel more comfortable by providing coaching and distraction tailored to your child’s developmental level. Sometimes this helps reduce the need for sedation. 

If your child needs an IV, a needle will be inserted into your child’s skin to give the medicine. Your child might feel a pinch or a poke when the needle goes into the vein. We have ways to help with the pain if your child needs it.

If your child is young or unable to lie still for images, he may need to be given medicine to help him relax or sleep. This is also called sedation or anesthesia. Depending on the test, sedation or anesthesia may be given by mouth, injection, or IV (a needle connected to a tiny tube).  Please make sure to inform the ordering physician and also at the time of scheduling the exam if you feel your child will need sedation.  If your child is scheduled with sedation or anesthesia, you will receive additional instructions to follow. 

Read more about sedation.

To further reduce the need for sedation and anesthesia, televisions are available in all of our exam rooms. We use “safety belts” to help your child hold still during exam. “Safety belts” can be velcro straps, swaddle blankets, and tape straps.  “Safety belts” will also be used to make sure that your child is safe during the procedure.  They can be quickly removed in the event of an emergency.

If the radiotracer is given through an IV, your child may experience a cold feeling on his arm. If it is swallowed, it has little or no taste.

Depending on the study ordered, it may take from several seconds to several days for the radiotracer to travel through your child’s body to the area needed to be imaged. The imaging test may be done right away, later the same day or another day.

Imaging times vary based on what study is ordered and typically take between 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the exam. Parents are welcome in the scan room for non-sedated procedures. If your child receives sedation or anesthesia, you can return to the exam room when the procedure is over. We will monitor your child closely until he or she is fully awake.

When imaging begins, your child will lie on the examination table beneath the camera. The camera may move or rotate around the body, but will not touch the patient and causes no harm.