Nuclear medicine

Nuclear medicine is a branch of radiology that uses radioactive materials, or radiopharmaceutical, to diagnose disease or support differential diagnosis, to monitor disease, and to treat disease. The benefit of nuclear medicine is that it allows close examination of the organs and how they function, down to the molecular level, and allows early diagnosis of disease.

Nuclear imaging begins with the administration of a radioactive substance (radiopharmaceutical or radioactive tracer) through injection, mouth, or inhalation. The right type of radioactive substance must be used for the organ being examined. The radioactive substance will enter the body and collect at the site of the disease or the organ being examined and will give off radiation. This radiation cannot be seen without proper equipment. Radiation will show both the normal and abnormal locations in the body. A special imaging device is used that captures radiation, records it as light symbols, and creates  images of the different parts of the body through the calculations of the computer. The radiologist can then interpret these images.

  1. Nuclear imaging can be used to diagnose numerous diseases, such as heart attack, problems with ventricular function, obstruction of the urinary tract, problems with kidney function, thyroid disease, many types of cancer and metastasis of cancer, bone disease, epilepsy, and many more that are focused on specific organs.
  2. Nuclear imaging can help specify disease, such as hypothyroidism instead of thyroiditis.
  3. Nuclear medicine can effectively treat certain organ-specific diseases, such as the use of radioactive iodine for hypothyroidism or thyroid cancer, Yttrium-90 sphere for liver tumors, Radium-223 dichloride to manage bone pain due to metastasis of prostate cancer, etc.
  1. Nuclear medicine has minimal risks, complications, and side effects as the radiopharmaceutical usually contains substances that we are normally exposed to anyway.
  2. The amount of radiopharmaceutical used for the procedure is carefully controlled to be as safe as possible by a radiologist and nuclear medicine technologist.
  3. If you become pregnant or think you might be pregnant within 30 days after the procedure, please contact your doctor or nurse to calculate the amount of radiation your fetus has been exposed to.
  1. It is not recommended that you bring any children or pregnant women with you.
  2. The radiopharmaceutical will be absorbed and the excess removed from your body within  
  3. 10-48 hours depend on type of radiopharmaceuticals. Most nuclear imaging uses radioactive substances that leave the body quickly.
  4. In case of pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding should stop at least 3 days after examination depend on type of  radiopharmaceuticals.
  1. Laboratory testing
  2. X-ray
  3. Biopsy
  4. Computerized tomography (CT)
  5. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  6. Positron emission tomography/computerized tomography (PET/CT)

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