Nuclear medecine exams

Nuclear medicine uses imaging techniques for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. These are functional imaging techniques that involve the administration of a radioactive tracer, which emits rays that are then detected. The nuclear medicine department specialises in PET scans and scintigraphs.

Before your test, your admission papers must be processed by the administrative team. On the day you arrive, you need to report to reception at door D of the Eugène Marquis Centre.

For PET scans, you need to go to either door C of the Eugène Marquis Centre or door C of the Emergency and Resuscitation Centre [Centre d’Urgence et de Réanimation] at Pontchaillou Hospital. This information will be provided on your appointment letter.

The written report and the images taken will be sent directly to your prescribing doctor within 48 hours.


    Documents to bring before your examination:

    • Your ID card or passport
    • Your national health insurance card (Carte Vitale)
    • Your prescription from your doctor
    • The results of any biological tests
    • The results of any previous imaging tests (ultrasound, CT scan, etc.)

    You need to fill out the questionnaire sent to you with your appointment letter and bring it to your appointment. If required given the results of the questionnaire, remember to have your bloods tested (creatinine) and to fax us the results (fax: (+31) 02992 53155).



    You can bring someone with you during your appointment, but — with the exception of young patients, who may be accompanied by their parents — only patients are allowed to enter the nuclear medicine department. There is a waiting room for friends and family.

    Pregnant women and young children are advised not to come to the nuclear medicine department.

Having a scintigraph

In scintigraphy, an image is taken of the organ of interest by introducing a small quantity of radioactive substance into the body, which is absorbed by the organ. During the process, your body is exposed to rays. Special cameras are used to take images of the rays emitted by the absorbed material. You are exposed to a similar level of radiation to that during a radiology exam.

Find out more about this kind of testing at the Eugène Marquis Centre



Having a PET scan

A PET scan is a type of scintigraph during which a radioactive tracer resembling sugar — known as fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) — is injected into the bloodstream. It does not hurt and has no side effects. It allows your doctor to identify the tissues that are using too much glucose, in particular tumours.

    • You will need to fast (no sugar or sweets, etc.) for at least four hours before your appointment. You can still drink water and take your medication, however.
    • Patients who are hospitalised the day before the exam or the same day must not be placed on a glucose drip.
    • Avoid all physical activity.
    • Let the team know if you are diabetic. You will be given further instructions when your appointment is booked.
    • If you think you or anyone accompanying you may be pregnant, please tell the reception desk before your appointment.
    • You must be on time for your exam.

    The radioactive tracer FDG has a lifespan of only two hours. If you turn up late, the level of FDG in your body will be too low to draw conclusive results.

    If you think you are going to be late, please call the PET department reception desk as soon as possible on (+31) 02992 53055.


    The exam should take 2 to 3 hours in total. During the exam, you will be placed under a PET camera, which is an imaging device that resembles a CT scan machine.

    Examen TEP Scan

    It does not hurt and has no side effects.

    Before the exam, you must take off all metal objects and items of clothing (belt, jewellery, wedding ring, etc.) that could interfere with the image.

    The technician will check your blood sugar level.

    The radioactive material will be injected into your body. Once the injection has been given, you will need to wait around one hour before the images can be taken.

    You will be asked to lie still on your back during the exam and to breathe normally. It will take around 25 minutes.

    Depending on your condition and if advised by your doctor, you may also be given an injection of an iodine-based contrast material.


    You can eat normally and perform all normal activities, including working and driving.

    The images taken will be examined by specialists from the nuclear medicine department. They will be sent directly, along with a report, to your prescribing doctor.

Having a haematology examination

Isotopes are used to tag cells in a variety of ways. In the human body, radioisotopes are the best way of studying organ function and blood cells in various blood diseases and of identifying areas of infection.

To tag cells, a blood sample is first taken from the patient. Blood cells are separated and tagged with a radioactive material (red blood cells, platelets and polynuclear cells) under a vertical laminar flow hood in the cell tagging room of the nuclear medicine department.


    • Measuring blood volume, corpuscular volume and plasma volume (51Cr)
    • Studying kidney function (EDTA Cr-51)
    • Measuring red blood cell lifespan (51Cr)
    • Identifying accessory spleens (99mTc)
    • Examining gastrointestinal bleeding (99mTc)
    • Measuring platelet lifespan (111In)
    • Performing a scintigraph on polynuclear cells (99mTc, 111In)

    Aim: Assessing glomerular filtration

    Principal: Plasma clearance is the most important parameter for assessing kidney function.

    Method: Injection of 3.7 MBq of EDTA-51Cr at T0.Subsequent blood samples taken at T90 and T180. Plasma activity of chromium-51 measured for each sample.

    Result: In an adult, the normal value is 125 ml/min.

  • Mesure du volume sanguin

    Aim: Determining blood volume and erythrocyte volume

    Main indication: Polyglobulia, thrombocythemia

    Principal: The dilation method is used to measure these volumes.

    Method:Blood sample taken and red blood cells tagged with chromium-51.Specific volume of red blood cells tagged with 51Cr reinjected.Blood samples taken 20 and 40 minutes later.The volume of blood and of red blood cells is determined based on the level of radioactivity in the samples. The values obtained are compared with theoretical values according to sex, weight and height.

    Result: If the patient has polyglobulia, the actual corpuscular volume will be different to the expected volume (>20%).

  • Scintigraphie aux polynucléaires

    Aim: Identifying areas of infection

    Principal: Radioactively-tagged polynuclear cells that have been reinjected into the patient will target the pathogen in order to phagocytise it. Using a gamma camera, a cluster of radioactively-tagged white blood cells can therefore be seen in the site of the infection.

    Method:After taking a blood sample from the patient, polynuclear cells are isolated using density gradient sedimentation and centrifugation.They are then tagged with 99mTc-HMPAO or 111mIn-oxinate.The radioisotope used depends on the disease.After being reinjected with the tagged cells, the patient is placed under a gamma camera.

    Result: Identification of precise location of infection.

  • Durée de vie des plaquettes

    Aim: Identifying the cause of thrombocytopenia. The cause may be central (production error) or peripheral (high destruction rate in spleen or liver).

    Principal: Radioactively-tagged platelets are reinjected into the patient and counted in the spleen, liver and precordium using images taken with a gamma camera. Daily blood tests are carried out over a week to measure the lifespan of the platelets.

    Method: After taking a blood sample from the patient, the platelets are isolated using centrifugation then tagged with 111In-oxinate.They are then reinjected into the patient.They are tracked in the body using a gamma camera.


    • Normal lifespan of normal radioactively-tagged platelets (estimated to be 9–10 days) and no abnormal removal by spleen or liver: central cause.
    • Shortened lifespan and abnormal removal by spleen or liver: peripheral cause.
    • Hypersplenism: early removal by spleen.

Children undergoing nuclear medicine exams

Your child may need to undergo testing in the nuclear medicine department of the Eugène Marquis Centre. Staff at the Centre are on call to answer all your questions.