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The Facts About Nuclear Medicine

Posted by Vikki Harmonay on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 @ 16:09 PM

When most people hear the word “nuclear,” the first thing that comes to mind is not so positive. Think Chernobyl. Think Fukushima Daiichi. But in the medical world, “nuclear” is a great thing. Nuclear medicine is Nuclear_Med_Systemsa branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive materials to diagnose and determine the severity a variety of diseases, including many cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine, neurological disorders and other abnormalities within the body. These procedures provide a wealth of valuable information that is not available through x-rays.

So how does it work?

All nuclear medicine studies are conducted using radioisotope and a CT, PET/CT scanner or special nuclear medicine camera. The patient either swallows or is injected with a radioisotope (a radioactive material used in a very small safe dose). The radioisotope congregates to cells and molecules in a specific location to be imaged while giving off a small amount of radiation in the form of gamma rays. The nuclear camera or detector counts the activity sending it to a computer, which transforms the counts to images. 

Oftentimes, the patient might have to wait several hours before an image is taken. In other situations, the image is taken instantly for the radioisotope to be detected. The small amount of radiation can be detected by a nuclear medicine camera and evaluated by the image.

The radioisotope will be gone from the patient system in 12 to 24 hours.

What are the types of Nuclear equipment

  • Scintillation Camera (also known as Gamma Camera)
  • SPECT- Single photon emission computed tomography
  • PET Scanner - Positron Emission Tomography

When is Nuclear medicine a good option?

When a patient has a disorder that is hard to identify, nuclear medicine can frequently help to diagnose a problem. A physician can:

  • Locate a suspected fracture that wouldn’t show up on x-ray
  • Look for sites of infection that are unknown or related to unhealed wounds
  • Check gallbladder and thyroid gland functions
  • Evaluate bone structure
  • Follow up a cancer treatment
  • Evaluate heart flow and function
  • Detect heart transplant rejection
  • Scan lungs
  • Investigate brain for abnormalities and neurological disorders

Nuclear medicine can also used for therapies including:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Lymphoma
  • Certain blood disorders
  • Painful tumor metastases to bones

Want to know more about today’s Nuclear Medical Equipment? You might be surprised at how affordable (and revenue-producing!) a refurbished or used system can be. Talk to an expert at Atlantis Worldwide today!  Contact Jeff Weiss at 212-366-9100 or jeffweiss@atlantisworldwide.com

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Meet the Author: Vikki Harmonay

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Topics: Medical Imaging Equipment, PET/CT