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Medical Imaging

Nuclear Medicine > Exams & Procedures > Brain Scan

This scan tests the blood supply and blood distribution to the brain. This test may have been ordered by your doctor to investigate several different possible disease processes:

  • Detect stroke.
  • Evaluate blood supply to the brain after an accident.
  • Help determine the cause of reoccurring headaches.
  • Evaluate the possibility of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia (altered mental states).
  • Localize where in the brain a seizure comes from.
  • Document the presence of brain death.

The brain scan involves the injection of a radioactive tracer that will flow to the brain and instantaneously localize in proportion to the blood supply. Pictures will be taken to form a three-dimensional image of the brain.


  • Bring a list of all medications and supplements you take.
  • Do not bring children or pregnant women with you to the department. We do not want to expose them to unnecessary radiation.
  • Any of these procedures is subject to change according to the nuclear medicine physician. The duration of the tests is a rough estimate. Please be aware that the time may be lengthened if a scan has to be repeated, if emergency cases are brought to the department or due to unforeseen circumstances.

About the Procedure

  • The procedure takes about one hour.
  • A technologist will briefly explain the test to you and try to answer any questions you may have about the procedure.
  • A technologist will ask you a few questions about your medical history and medications.
  • You will be asked to lie down on a bed.
  • A camera will be positioned near your head. The camera will be close but will not touch you. Please inform the technologist if you are afraid of small spaces (claustrophobic).
  • The technologist will give you an injection of a radioactive tracer into a vein.
  • Pictures are taken as the tracer is injected.
  • You are given a 20 to 30 minute break.
  • You will be repositioned under the camera and pictures will be taken continuously for 30 minutes.
  • It is very important that you do not move during these pictures - movement causes blurring of the pictures and results in having to take the pictures again.