Nuclear Medicine Imaging
Nuclear medicine is a type of imaging that uses very small amounts radioactive material, called radiopharmaceuticals, to provide detailed images of a patient's organs. Physicians can then use these images to help diagnose disease and treat the disease.
Nuclear medicine helps physicians diagnose and treat a variety of conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Diseases of the endocrine system
- Neurological disorders
- Several types of cancer
Nuclear medicine provides precision imaging that can pinpoint molecular activity within the body. That means physicians have an increased ability to detect diseases in their earliest stages, long before some medical problems are apparent with other diagnostic tests. This early detection allows a disease to be treated early in its course when there may be a more successful prognosis.
Nuclear medicine works because radiopharmaceuticals are attracted to specific organs, bones or tissues. The radiopharmaceuticals used in nuclear medicine emit gamma rays that can be detected externally by special types of cameras that work in conjunction with computers used to form images that provide data and information about the area of the body being imaged. The amount of radiation from a nuclear medicine procedure is comparable to that received during a diagnostic X-ray.
Today, nuclear medicine offers procedures that are helpful to a broad span of medical specialties, from pediatrics to cardiology to psychiatry. There are nearly 100 different nuclear medicine imaging procedures available and all major organ systems can be imaged by nuclear medicine.