Nuclear Medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose or treat a variety of disease, including many types of cancers, heart disease and certain other abnormalities within the body.
Nuclear Medicine or radionuclide imaging procedures are noninvasive and usually painless medical tests that help physicians diagnose medical conditions. These imaging scans use radioactive materials called radiopharmaceuticals or radiotracers.
Nuclear Medicine imaging scans are used to:
Analyze kidney function
Determine the presence or spread of cancer in various parts of the body
Evaluate bones for fractures, infection, arthritis, and tumors
Identify bleeding into the bowel
Identify inflammation in the gallbladder
Investigate abnormalities in the brain, such as seizures, memory loss, and abnormalities in blood flow
Localize the lymph nodes before surgery in patients with breast cancer or melanoma
Locate the presence of infections
Measure thyroid function to detect an overactive or underactive thyroid
Scan lungs for respiratory and blood flow problems
Visualize heart blood flow and function (such as a myocardial perfusion scan)
Physicians use radionuclide imaging procedures to visualize the structure and function of an organ, tissue, bone or system of the body.
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 materials used to treat painful tumor metastases to the bones.