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Lesson 20. Brain Scan


a. Brain scanning is the use of a specialized camera to provide images of the brain after an I.V. injection of a radionucleotide. Normally, the radionucleotide cannot permeate the blood-brain barriers, but if pathologic changes have destroyed the barrier, the radionucleotide may concentrate in the abnormal area.

b. Diagnostic uses:

(1) To detect an intracranial mass or vascular lesion.
(2) To locate areas of ischemia, cerebral infarction, or hemorrhage.
(3) To evaluate the course of certain lesions postoperatively and during chemotherapy.

c. Nursing implications.

(1) Review the patient's clinical record to determine the reason (purpose) for the specific patient's scheduled brain scanning procedure and what the patient has been told about the procedure.
(2) Approach and identify the patient.
(3) Interview the patient to determine his/her knowledge of the purpose of the brain scanning procedure.
(4) As indicated, explain to the patient the specific purpose of the brain scan. Explain purpose in a manner consistent with that offered by the physician to avoid confusing the patient.
(5) Explain to the patient events that will occur prior to the brain scanning procedure.
(a) Patient will not have to restrict food or fluids before test.
(b) Patient will be asked to empty his/her bladder prior to the procedure.
(c) All jewelry or metal in the x-ray field will be removed and placed in safe keeping.
(d) Describe the scanning machine and explain it will move back and forth close to the patient's head.
(e) Explain that the procedure is painless and that the radiation poses no danger to the patient or visitors.
(f)   A radioactive drug will be injected intravenously at least one hour before the scan begins.

(6) Explain to the patient events that will occur during the brain scanning procedure.

(a) The patient will be transported to the nuclear medicine department.
(b) Films will be taken of the brain at various time intervals.
(c) The patient can expect to be in the nuclear medicine department at least an hour and a half.

(7) Explain to the patient events that will occur after the brain scan.

(a) Patient will be transported back to his/her room.
(b) Physician will report the results of the brain scan to the patient when available.

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015