New adventure in nuclear medicine today, and it was not too bad from a consumer's perspective. I walked over to the diagnostic radiology lab, conveniently located near our local hospital, to experience another tool in the toolkit of the oncology professional. As mentioned yesterday, my oncologist referred me here so that we can be somewhat sure that our treatment plan is oriented toward the right objective (which is hopefully those two tumor in my liver). The bone scan is meant to rule out additional mets that would not normally show up on a CT scan.
So, as I understand it, the idea is to inject the patient (aka, "Ed") with a radioactive element (Technetium-99m) that has a short half-life (6 hours) and emits a steady flow of gamma radiation that a gamma detector can detect. The technetium is carried by my bloodstream throughout my body, but it is especially attracted to the calcium in my bones. So everywhere there is blood contact with bone, a little of the technetium binds to the calcium there and emits gamma radiation until it has no energy left. More blood flowing to areas generates more technetium deposited, which then leads to more gamma radiation emitted. There is a ton of additional information on Wikipedia, should you really want to get into the science of that process. I was injected with the technetium at 10am and told to come back at 1pm for the scan. No special diets, no fluid restrictions... piece of cake.
Went back at 1pm and was asked to lie down on a gurney. The technician then gave me a cushion to support my knees (slightly bent) and two straps (one to hold my feet together and another to support my arms. He then wheeled me under the gamma detector and I took a nap (honest!) while the machine moved slowly over me. All of my bones slowly light up on the detector, and areas that have the highest concentration of technetium light up the most. The detector is very sensitive, so we will have a good picture of my skeletal health when all is said-and-done. The radiologist's report will be available on Monday.
Not too bad, really.