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Isotope diagnostic methods

Everything about Isotope Diagnostic Examinations

The condition and function of certain organs can be examined efficiently with diagnostic techniques using radioisotopes. During the examination, a substance that takes part in the function or metabolism of a certain organ is labelled with a specific material and administered into the body. The substance is chosen based on the type of examination; it bounds to the target organ, and then it is excreted from it. The “labelled” substance is quickly absorbed by the body with an intensity and distribution that depends on the function of the organ. The signals emitted from this substance are then detected and provide information about the condition and function of the target organ. During isotopic labelling examinations, the isotope-labelled substance is usually administered intravenously into the patient’s body.

What are the risks involved with the examination?

Isotope diagnostic examinations have a low radiation exposure, which is usually less than the exposure from an X-ray examination. The radiation exposure approximately corresponds to 1 to 1.5 years of natural radiation exposure resulting from cosmic radiation and background radiation. After the examination, the patient can freely meet others, use the common restroom; the examination does not put others at risk. The risk is minimal, but to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure, you are advised to stay away from children under the age of 16 on the day of the examination, and do not stay near infants and pregnant women for longer periods of time. Special care is needed when examining pregnant or breast-feeding women. In these cases, please also consult your attending physician.

What side effects might the examination have?

Radioactive medications given during the examination do not have any side effects, and only cause allergy in extremely rare cases.

Isotope diagnostic examinations
ISOTOPE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART MUSCLE

Isotope examination of the heart muscle at rest and with exertion assesses past damage in the heart muscle and its perfusion disorders after exercise. The examination also provides information about the pumping work of the heart muscle.

How is the examination performed?

The examination at rest consists of an intravenous injection, and after 30 minutes a scan is performed, whilst the patient should lie motionless. The scan takes approximately 15 minutes. The stress test is performed another day, similar to the examination at rest, but with preliminary physical exercise (treadmill) or medication-induced stress.
The examination is not painful; only the intravenous injection might cause mild discomfort.
The examination takes 1 to 2 hours on average.

How should I prepare for the examination?

Fasting is required before both examinations. Please bring half a liter of milk or 50 g of chocolate. Consume these before the scan, 10 minutes after the intravenous administration of the radioactive medicine, because these constrict the liver and the gallbladder; thus, they help bile secretion and improve the quality of the heart scans. Two days before the stress test, the medications listed in the patient information leaflet should be discontinued; furthermore, fluids that contain caffeine (coffee, energy drinks, tea or coke) are forbidden.

How do I request an examination?

A specialist’s referral is required to perform the examination. Examinations for patients with a referral are performed by appointment, and are covered by the National Health Insurance Fund of Hungary (Hungarian acronym: NEAK). The booking time is usually 1 to 4 weeks.
The examination may be requested in the centres of Affidea Hungary without a referral during private consultation hours, according to the price list. Private care examination is usually performed in 1 to 3 days.

BONE ISOTOPE EXAMINATION

A bone isotope examination evaluates any pathological processes of the bone and joint. It is mostly used to evaluate bone metastases, inflammations of the bones and joints, bone tumours, circulatory disorders of the bones and prosthesis loosening, but it is also suitable for evaluating active and degenerative joint diseases.

How is the examination performed?

The patient is given an intravenous injection and has to wait for at least 2 to 3 hours for the scanning, allowing enough time for the isotopic tracer to bind. While waiting, the patient may leave the centre. During the waiting time, at least 1 liter of liquid must be consumed for the isotope to wash out from the soft tissues. Once the appropriate waiting time is up, a 15 to 30-minute-long scanning is performed, whilst the patient should lie motionless. In certain cases, the radioactive medicine is administered under a gamma camera, and early scans are also made.
The examination is not painful; only the intravenous injection might cause mild pain.
The duration of the examination is 3 to 5 hours including the waiting time.

How should I prepare for the examination?

A bone isotope examination does not require any preparation; you do not have to come on an empty stomach. Please bring 1 liter of liquid to drink after administering the injection.

How do I request an examination?

A specialist’s referral is required to perform the examination. Examinations for patients with a referral are performed by appointment, and are covered by the National Health Insurance Fund of Hungary (Hungarian acronym: NEAK). The booking time is 2 to 14 days.
The examination may be requested in the Diagnostic centres of Affidea without a referral during private consultation hours; it is performed usually within 1 to 3 days, according to the price list.

ISOTOPE BRAIN PERFUSION EXAMINATION

An isotope brain perfusion examination is primarily performed to evaluate circulatory disorders in the brain, diseases accompanied by forgetfulness and dementia, epileptic foci, and conditions after head injury. The examination is also able to detect causes of headache, and to find the potential organic background of psychiatric disorders.

How is the examination performed?

For the isotope brain perfusion examination at rest, the patient is given an intravenous injection and has to take a capsule. After waiting for at least 30 to 60 minutes, the scan is performed; the duration of the scan is approximately 25 minutes. The stress test is performed at least 2 days later, and the only difference compared to the examination at rest is that 20 minutes before administering the radioactive medicine, another medicine is infused intravenously, at a slow rate. The stress test cannot be performed in cases of sulphonamide sensitivity.
The examination is not painful; only the intravenous injection might cause mild pain.
The duration of the examination is 1 to 1.5 hours including the waiting time.

How should I prepare for the examination?

The examination does not require any preparation; you do not have to come on an empty stomach.

How do I request an examination?

A specialist’s referral is required to perform the examination. Examinations for patients with a referral are performed by appointment, and are covered by the National Health Insurance Fund of Hungary (Hungarian acronym: NEAK). The booking time is usually 1 to 14 weeks.
The examination may be requested in the centres of Affidea Hungary without a referral during private consultation hours; it is performed usually within 1 to 4 days, according to the price list.

THYROID SCINTIGRAPHY

An isotope examination of the thyroid gland is generally used to clarify the nature of thyroid lesions. (Cold or hot nodules detected previously by thyroid gland ultrasound or palpation.) The examination can be used to evaluate thyroid function disorders, congenital hypothyroidism or lesions in the neck of uncertain origin; furthermore, it provides information about the size of the thyroid gland.

How is the examination performed?

The patient is given an intravenous injection, and after at least 10 minutes, the scan is performed, which also lasts 10 minutes.
The examination is not painful; only the intravenous injection might cause mild pain.
The duration of the examination is 20 to 30 minutes including the waiting period.

How should I prepare for the examination?

The examination does not require any preparation; you do not have to come on an empty stomach. Please bring your medical report of the thyroid ultrasound and the thyroid function tests (TSH, T3, T4).

How do I request an examination?

A specialist’s referral is required to perform the examination. Examinations for patients with a referral are performed by appointment, and are covered by the National Health Insurance Fund of Hungary (Hungarian acronym: NEAK). The booking time is usually 1 to 5 workdays.
The examination may be requested in the centres of Affidea Hungary without a referral during private consultation hours; it is performed usually within 1 to 4 days.

LYPMH NODE, LYMPH VESSEL SCINTIGRAPHY
This isotope examination is used for certain tumorous diseases (mostly skin and breast cancer) to evaluate the lymphatic drainage of the affected area, and to detect the sentinel lymph node, which is important for metastases. It is also used for isotope marking before surgery for more accurate surgery results.

How is the examination performed?

For the isotope examination of lymph nodes and lymph vessels, the administration of the radioactive medicine and the gamma camera scanning are generally performed the day before surgery. During the operation, the possibly active, i.e. metastatic sentinel lymph node is found and identified with a special detector.
In case of non-palpable breast tumours, the procedure provides guidance for the surgeon for the radioisotope guided removal of the tumour. The radioactive medicine is administered around the tumour (generally skin or breast cancer) in 4 locations, and for non-palpable breast tumours, the medicine is administered directly into the tumour under ultrasound or mammography guidance. The projection of the detected sentinel lymph nodes is marked on the skin generally from two directions with a skin-marker.
The examination is not painful; only the intravenous injection might cause mild pain.
The early scans take 30 to 60 minutes, while the late ones take 10 minutes.
Appointments are made by consultation with the surgeons.

How should I prepare for the examination?

The examination does not require any preparation; you do not have to come on an empty stomach.