What Is Nuclear Medicine?

What Is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear medicine is categorized as the special field in medical science, which involves the application of certain radioactive substances that helps in diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment plan of various diseases. Nuclear medicine imaging the type of radiology that emits the radiations from within the body of an individual, which then records stuff and allows the doctors to visualize it. It is different to normally utilized imaging tests like X-rays, where radiations are emitted from the external source. Nuclear medicine is different from radiology because the focus in nuclear medicine is moreover functions of the body parts rather than anatomy, which is why it is termed as a physiological imaging modality. Nuclear medicine offers two most common forms of imaging tests, such as SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) and PET (Positron emission tomography).

So how is it performed? For nuclear medicine imaging tests, radiopharmaceuticals are given either intravenously or by an oral method. The gamma cameras or external detectors then capture the internal images of the body through the emitted radiations from the radiopharmaceuticals. There are different diagnostic techniques for nuclear medicine imaging, such as:

2D Scintigraphy, where internal radionuclides are used for creating the 2-dimensional images. The whole body nuclear medicine bone scan is utilized for identifying the bone-related pathologies like stress fractures, bone pain, bone infections, bone lesions, bone cancers, and others. Nuclear medicine myocardial perfusion scan is an important imaging test for evaluating coronary artery disease. It offers complete prognostic information along with the risk factor for adverse effects in the patient’s life. Nuclear medicine parathyroid scan aids in identifying the parathyroid adenoma. Nuclear medicine hepatobiliary scan is useful for identifying the gall bladder disease.

3D SPECT tomographic technique makes use of gamma cameras for the detection of diseases in various planes. SPECT tests are utilized mainly for diagnosis and tracking the progression of heart disease like coronary artery blockage. The radiotracers are also used for detecting bone disorders, gall bladder disease. It helps in the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease within the brain. PET or positron emission tomography utilizes coincidence detection to process functional images. PET helps in the diagnosis of cancer and monitors the progression of treatment.  

Nuclear medicine tests are different in comparison to the normal imaging tests such as MRI or CT scans, which show the anatomy of the different body organs, whereas nuclear medicine focuses on physiologic functions. The nuclear medicines imaging tests are tissue, organs, or diseases specific such as heart, lungs, brain, bone, tumors, infections, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and others. The normal imaging tests, on the other hand, focus on the particular body section, such as chest X-ray, head CT scan, abdomen/ pelvis CT scan, and others. There are certain whole-body nuclear medicine scans as well, such as whole-body PET scan, indium white blood cell scans, gallium scans, and others.  

The diagnostic tests which are utilized within nuclear medicine manipulate the human body in a certain way. When the radionuclide substance is introduced inside the body to identify the pathology of a certain disease, it binds with the chemical complex, which is termed as a tracer. When the disease or pathology is found within the body, the tracer distributes throughout the body and processes differently.

The radionuclide used in nuclear medicine helps in treating cancerous conditions, blood disorders, hyperthyroidism, and many others. The main beneficial effect of nuclear medicine is that when the radionuclide is introduced internally, whether by oral route or intravenously, the radiation is emitted to a small distance rather than affecting the unwanted organs or body parts.

Until Next Time,

Team Doctor ASKY!


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