WHAT IS NUCLEAR MEDICINE?
HOW DOES NUCLEAR MEDICINE WORK?
Radiopharmaceuticals emit energy known as gamma rays (similar to X-rays) that can be detected by special types of cameras (such as PET, SPECT, or gamma cameras). These cameras work online with computers to form images that provide detailed information about the part of the body being imaged. These cameras come in different shapes and sizes. The nuclear medicine specialist will select the best camera type based on which area of the body and for what reason it will be scanned and the best technology available. Some cameras move across the body, some rotate around the body, and some do not move at all. These cameras do not hurt or make any noise. Furthermore, unlike X-rays, CT scanners, ultrasounds, or MRIs, nuclear medicine cameras transmit no radiation through the patient.
If nuclear medicine is used to help treat your condition, the tracer is designed in such a way to go to the diseased area allowing treatment to be targeted to this site of the disease.
YOUR NUCLEAR MEDICINE TEAM
A nuclear medicine RADIOGRAPHER or TECHNOLOGIST is a uniquely trained individual, highly educated in the theory and practice of nuclear medicine technology whose responsibilities include the preparation of radiopharmaceuticals, calibrating the dose, its administration and operation of the special imaging equipment.
IS NUCLEAR MEDICINE A NEW SPECIALITY?
No, nuclear medicine is a well established and proven discipline. It was first used over 60 years ago, making it older than CT, MRI, and ultrasound. Nuclear medicine procedures are now common in most countries in the world.
HOW IS NUCLEAR MEDICINE DIFFERENT FROM X-RAYS, CT, MRI, ULTRASOUND?
ements, but there are important differences. Where the latter provide information primarily about the body structures, nuclear medicine diagnostic imaging procedures make possible measurements of regional body functions. Radiological imaging procedures will show how an organ looks, nuclear medicine will show how the organ works. Combine the two and we have a winning formula for medical diagnostic success.
ARE THERE ANY SAFETY CONCERNS WITH NUCLEAR MEDICINE PROCEDURES?
Don’t let the words “nuclear” or “radioisotope” scares you. Nuclear medicine procedures are designed to expose you to the least radiation possible while successfully performing the procedure. The radioactive material is given in very small doses, does not make you feel differently, loses radioactivity within a short period of time and quickly leaves the body (usually within the first 24 hours). For your comfort, all tracers are prepared with exceptional care and have been thoroughly tested, controlled and approved the corresponding Medicine Control Council, Authority or Administration of a respective country.
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY PROCEDURE?
Nuclear medicine procedures are commonly performed in children and in special circumstances pregnant women. They are given the appropriate, adjusted dose of radiopharmaceutical to image the patient.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN DURING MY PROCEDURE?
You will be given a small dose of the radiopharmaceutical, usually intravenously, sometimes orally or by inhalation. Depending on which type of scan is being performed, the imaging will either be done immediately after you receive the tracer, a few hours, or even a few days after your injection.
When you are ready for imaging you will be asked to lie down while the camera is positioned over your body. While the images are being taken, you must remain as still as possible. Imaging time varies, generally ranging from 20 to 45 minutes.