Nuclear Medicine : A Global Link For The Scientific Community

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Nuclear medicine is a relatively new process of medical practice in which radioactive material is used to treat disease, inflammation, infection, and clotting disorders. (Nuclear Medicine Radiochemistry Society, n.d.) The treatment of these conditions comes in medicinal form, through radiopharmaceuticals. “[Radiopharmaceuticals] may be put into a vein, taken by mouth, or placed in a body cavity. Depending on the drug and how it’s given, these materials travel to various parts of the body to treat cancer or relieve its symptoms” (American Cancer Society, 2014). By examining the complications which are attempting to be solved, it is evident that the medicinal uses of radioisotopes are a global link for the scientific community. However, in…show more content…
A major characteristic of radioactive material is that it decays from one element to another through particle and gamma decay. Essentially, all radioactive materials are byproducts of previously decayed elements. In order to utilize the radioisotopes of their choice, providers must artificially employ forms of specific radionuclide formation. This process is induced in a variety of ways, namely, production in a particle accelerator or creation in a nuclear reactor.
“Overall there are some 3800 radioisotopes. At present there are up to 200 radioisotopes used on a regular basis [in medical practice], and most must be produced artificially” (NMRS, 2003). Man-made radioisotopes can be made through a cyclotron (a circular particle accelerator) or in a nuclear reactor but “nuclear reactors are currently producing the vast majority of the isotopes” (Nuclear Resource and Information Center, 2010). Consequently, focusing on the mechanics of their creation in a nuclear reactor is the most effective way to analyze radioisotopes in medicine. “The radioisotope most widely used in medicine is technetium-99m, employed in some 80% of all nuclear medicine procedures—70,000 every day” (Hore-Lacy, 2009), and is the decayed transmutation of molybdenum-99 within a technetium-99m generator. These technetium-99m generators are actually
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