Nuclear Medicine

601 Words May 5th, 2014 3 Pages
Nuclear Medicine
Argosy University

Nuclear medicine is a specialized branch of modern medicine that exploits the process of radioactivity for imaging, diagnosis, and treatment. Many imaging techniques inject small amounts of radioactive material into the body, which are then tracked by a sensing device specific to the type of radiation emitted from that material. Radiation has also been used to destroy diseased tissue, typically beyond the reach of standard surgical techniques. Nuclear Medicine is the medical specialty that uses unsealed sources of radiation (liquids and gases) for diagnosis and therapy. These unsealed sources are known as radiopharmaceuticals, drugs that emit radiation.
Depending on the type exam a patient needs,
…show more content…
That means it can tell you how well the organ is working, instead of showing pictures of it. For example, nuclear studies quantify renal function and tell us how well the thyroid gland takes up iodine. In gallbladder studies, the radiotracer is excreted by the liver, taken up by the gallbladder and excreted into the bowel. If the gallbladder does not take up the tracer, or the tracer is not excreted into the bowel, there is blockage. An ultrasound shows us whether there are gallstones, and whether there is inflammation around the gallbladder, but it does not show functional obstruction. (If we see a stone in the bile duct, we infer blockage, but it is difficult to see the entire bile duct on ultrasound.) Radiotracer is taken up by living cells, so a heart study shows what part of the heart muscle is alive vs. dead after a heart attack. (Both nuclear med and cardiac echo can show how hard the heart is pumping.)
Disadvantages are the anatomic resolution. Nuc med images aren't "pretty," they do not show much anatomic detail. For this reason, they have started to combine modalities it is now possible to get a PET-CT which provides both anatomic and physiologic information. Another disadvantage is the exposure to radiation. A typical nuc med exam exposes a patient to a little more radiation than a chest x-ray but less than a CT scan. People should never treat radiation exposure cavalierly, but if the study is needed for diagnosis, the benefit

More about Nuclear Medicine