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The nurse's role in nuclear medicine service in the emergency room


Recently our institution introduced a nuclear medicine laboratory inside the Emergency Department. Today's critically ill and emergency patients require heightened vigilance and extraordinarily intricate care. The role of the nurse in the assessment and management of critically ill patients is significant and can greatly improve the safety of nuclear medicine procedures in this group of patients.

Aim and methods

Our purpose is to describe the nurse's role in the Nuclear Medicine Service in the Emergency Room. The Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)-trained nurse staff explains the details of nuclear imaging and provides continuous nurse care, especially in acutely ill patients. Calibration and injection of radiopharmaceuticals is another nurse's role.


In the period from November 2002 to February 2003 we performed 316 examinations, 70 (22%) of them in an emergency setting without any significant complication. Acute rest injection of technetium 99m-tetrofosmin was performed in seven patients suspected of acute coronary syndrome. Brain SPECT was carried out in two patients with neurologic symptoms. A lung scan was carried out in four patients. Technetium 99m-white blood cell scintigraphy was performed in four septic patients, three of them during mechanical ventilation. Stress myocardial perfusion imaging was carried out in 53 patients admitted to the chest pain unit with normal or nondiagnostic electrocardiogram. The nurse ensured patient and staff radiation safety, provided continued nurse care and assisted in efficacious injection of radionuclide agents.


The nurse's role is changing, and this has occurred as a result of historical evolution and the use of increasing technology in hospitals. An ACLS-trained nurse in a nuclear medicine laboratory inside the Emergency Department is essential because of the increasing complexity of critically ill and emergency patients.

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Ávila, D., Correa, P., Dohmann, H. et al. The nurse's role in nuclear medicine service in the emergency room. Crit Care 7, P104 (2003).

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  • Myocardial Perfusion Imaging
  • Technetium
  • Stress Myocardial Perfusion Imaging
  • Emergency Patient
  • Stress Myocardial Perfusion