What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine imaging is unique, because it provides doctors with information about both structure and function of organs.
It is a way to gather medical information that would otherwise be unavailable, require surgery or necessitate more expensive diagnostic tests.
Nuclear medicine imaging procedures often identify abnormalities very early in the progress of a disease, sometimes long before many medical problems are apparent with other diagnostic tests.
What are Radiopharmaceuticals?
Nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive materials (radiopharmaceuticals) to diagnose and treat disease.
In imaging, the radiopharmaceuticals are detected by special types of cameras that work with computers to provide very precise pictures about the area of the body being imaged.
In treatment, the radiopharmaceuticals go directly to the organ being treated.
Is it safe?
The amount of radiation in a typical nuclear imaging procedure is comparable with that received during a diagnostic x-ray.
Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam you are undergoing, the radiotracer is either injected into a vein, swallowed or inhaled as a gas and eventually accumulates in the organ or area of your body being examined. There it gives off energy in the form of gamma rays, which are detected by the gamma camera.