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Nuclear Medicine

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About[]

Nuclear medicine is a branch of medicine within medical imaging that uses nuclear properties for in diagnosis and therapy. More specifically, nuclear medicine is a part of molecular imaging because it produces images that reflect biological processes that take place at the cellular and subcellular level.[1] Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose or treat a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease and certain other abnormalities within the body.

Equipment Types[]

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, where it gives off energy in the form of gamma rays.

This energy is detected by a few different types of devices:

These devices work together with a computer to measure the amount of radiotracer absorbed by your body and to produce special pictures offering details on both the structure and function of organs and tissues.

Therapies[]

Nuclear medicine therapies include:

  • Radioactive iodine (I-131) therapy used to treat hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland, for example, Graves' disease) and thyroid cancer.
  • Radioactive antibodies used to treat certain forms of lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system).
  • Radioactive phosphorus (P-32) used to treat certain blood disorders.
  • Radioactive materials used to treat painful tumor metastases to the bones.

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Links[]

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