An extraordinary medical tool
Nuclear medicine incorporates radioactive materials to help diagnose and treat a wide variety of diseases and disorders. It helps physicians to diagnose disease earlier to make medical treatment more effective. Nuclear medicine procedures are widely used to test and treat patients.
How does nuclear medicine work?
The technology is highly complex, but generally the procedure follows these 4 basic steps:
- The patient — is given a compound that is injected, swallowed or inhaled. Different compounds are used to study different parts of the body.
- The compound — travels throughout he body, giving off gamma rays. The gamma rays show the location of the compound in the body.
- Diagnostic equipment — detects the gamma rays and records them as flashes of light. These are used to create pictures of the part of the body being studied. A computer may help make images easier to interpret.
- The results — are interpreted by a nuclear medicine physician and the patient's primary care physician.
Six widely used tests
- Renal scans — used to detect disease, damage and malformations of the kidneys and urinary tract.
- Thyroid uptakes and scans — used to diagnose disorders of the thyroid gland, the "thermostat" that speeds up or slows down most body functions.
- Lung scans — used most commonly to detect blood clots in the lungs.
- Cardiac imaging — used to study blood flow to the heart (coronary artery disease), check heart function and diagnose a recent heart attack.
- Liver and gallbladder imaging — used to help diagnose liver disorders, such as cirrhosis or tumors, and to diagnose gallbladder disease.
- Bone scans — used to detect areas of bone growth, fractures, tumors, infection of bone, etc.
What about safety?
Every precaution is taken to ensure the safety of our patients. Exposure to radiation is low, as only tiny quantities are used for diagnoses. Exposure is short, as compounds lose most of their radioactivity in a relatively short period of time and are usually quickly eliminated from the body. Radiation exposure is carefully controlled, as our facilities, equipment and materials meet strict safety standards.