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GRH Nuclear Medicine and 'Glowing Eggs'

Hospital news | Monday, February 13, 2017

Contact: Mardi Ford

If you’ve ever suspected the distinct smell of scrambled eggs in the morning near the Nuclear Medicine department at Grande Ronde Hospital, you’re not mistaken. Nuclear Medicine Technologist Jim Jones performs a study that requires him to prepare a very special breakfast for his patient.

The study, called a “Gastric Emptying Study”, is performed by a Certified Nuclear Medicine Technologist (CNMT), like Jim, and usually happens after a patient is suspected to have gastroparesis – a condition that keeps food from leaving the stomach as quickly as it should. Patients with gastroparesis may have a hard time with nausea, indigestion, and a variety of other symptoms.

The gastric emptying study requires the use of a radioactive isotope that is monitored as it travels through the upper digestive tract. It’s ingested with food (hence the breakfast), and according to Jim, functions better when paired with foods containing sulfur. His favorite meal to prepare for his patients? Eggs on toast.

Because gastroparesis can be an uncomfortable condition, Jim makes every effort to keep his patients comfortable. By the time they arrive, the egg yolks have been injected with the radioactive isotope, and are ready to be prepared upon the patient’s arrival. He also prepares a full breakfast tray with toast, juice, jam, and the rest of the breakfast works.

After the patient arrives, the study is explained, and the eggs are ingested, Jim encourages his patient to get comfortable – the isotope is monitored for at least two hours as it passes through the stomach. He has a wide variety of Pandora stations that he lets his patient choose from, and is even willing to turn down the lights so the patient can get some shut-eye.

This procedure itself isn’t anything out of the ordinary. It’s the extraordinary customer service and patient care Jim provides when working with his gastroparesis patients that sets it apart. His passion for nuclear medicine and an above-and-beyond mentality when it comes to keeping his patients happy is apparent as he prepares for a procedure such as this one.