Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive materials (radiopharmaceuticals) to diagnose and treat disease. In imaging, the radiopharmaceuticals are detected by special types of cameras that work with computers to provide very precise pictures about the area of the body being imaged. Nuclear medicine imaging is unique, because it provides doctors with information about both structure and function. It is a way to gather medical information that would otherwise be unavailable, require surgery, or necessitate more expensive diagnostic tests.

  1. Diagnosis. Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and determine the severity of or treat a variety of diseases.  In a Nuclear Medicine test, a radiopharmaceutical (a specially prepared medicine containing radioactivity) is introduced into your body by an injection, swallowing or inhalation. A special machine called a “Gamma Camera” is used to take pictures of the body. Because nuclear medicine procedures are able to pinpoint molecular activity within the body, they offer the potential to identify disease in its earliest stages as well as a patient’s immediate response to therapeutic interventions. Nuclear medicine is useful in displaying physiology function. Widely used to assess the  excretory function of  the  kidneys  ,iodine  concentrating  ability of  thyroid, blood flow to the  heart muscle.
  2. Treatment. In treatment, the radiopharmaceuticals or radiotracers go directly to the organ being treated. The amount of radiation in a typical nuclear imaging procedure is comparable with that received during a diagnostic x-ray, and the amount received in a typical treatment procedure is kept within safe limits.
  3. Procedure of Nuclear Medicine

A simplified typical procedure would be as follows:-

  • Discussing the procedure with the patient
  • Injecting the radiopharmaceutical which localizes in the area of interest, commonly tracers used are Technetium-99m, Iodine-123, Iodine-131, Gallium-67 and Thallium-201.
  • Imaging using a special camera. The gamma  camera  is  used  as  principal image  device  which detect tracer in the  body and  displays it an image.
  • With computer processing  the  image  can be displayed as axial, coronal, and  Sagittal images

Risks of Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medical procedures are safe, both for the patient and the technologist.  Patients experience little or no discomfort and do not require anesthesia.  Exposure to ionizing radiation is monitored closely, and kept well below safety limits. 

PET – Positive Emission Tomography

Positive emission tomography falls under Nuclear Medicines, in PET a radioactive  biological-active  substance  Florine-18 or Flurodeoxyglucose is  injected  into a patient  and  the  radiation emitted by the  patient  is  detected  to produce  multiplanar images of  the  body .The  concentration of  the substance is increased more in cancer tissue  than normal tissue. PET Image can be combined with CT Images to improve the diagnostic accuracy. The Nuclear medicine application can be used in bone scanning to stage the bone lesion. Myocardial perfusion imaging is a sensitive and specific screening examination for reversible myocardial ischemia. Molecular imaging is the new and exciting frontier in the field.

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