About Nuclear Medicine
This information is intended for general information only and should not be considered as medical advice on the part of Health-Tourism.com. Any decision on medical treatments, after-care or recovery should be done solely upon proper consultation and advice of a qualified physician.
What is nuclear medicine?
This is a medical imaging technique that uses radiotracers to diagnose and treat disease. Radiotracers are small amounts of radioactive materials which are inhaled, swallowed or injected into the bloodstream. The radiotracer travels through the body part being examined and gives off energy which is detected by a specially designed camera and a computer to create images.When is nuclear medicine commonly used?
How should I prepare?
- To diagnose and track the progression of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, endocrine, and gastrointestinal disorders.
- To investigate intestinal bleeding
- To detect cancer, monitor its progression, response to treatment and detect metastases.
- To detect urinary tract obstructions
- To evaluate for hypertension
- To investigate esophageal reflux or motility disorders
- To diagnose respiratory problems
- To detect organ transplant rejection
- To evaluate bones for, fractures, infection, tumors and metastatic bone disease
- To evaluate painful prosthetics
- To investigate brain abnormalities in patients with seizures and memory loss.
- To detect the early onset of disorders such s Alzheimer’s
How does the procedure work?
- Women should always tell the doctor or technician if they suspect they may be pregnant or are breastfeeding.
- You should also let your doctor know any medications and supplement you are taking.
- Metallic jewelry and accessories may interfere with the procedure and should be left at home.
- Your doctor will discuss with you the procedure and add any necessary instructions.
How is the procedure performed?
- The procedure is noninvasive and painless except when getting an injection. Depending on the type of test the radiotracer will either be injected, swallowed or inhaled and eventually accumulates in the area being examined.
- The radiotracer gives off energy which is detected by a special camera and a computer creates the detailed images on both structure and function of tissues and organs in your body.
- This technique focuses on showing the body’s physiological processes such as levels of chemical activity and rates of metabolism. Areas that accumulate large amounts of radiotracer are called hot spots and indicate a high level of metabolic or chemical activity.
After the procedure
- The procedure can be performed in an outpatient center or in a hospital. You will lie down on an examination table, and if necessary an intravenous(IV) line will be inserted into your arm.
- The dose of radiotracer is then injected, inhaled as a gas or swallowed. It may take second, hours or days for the radiotracer to accumulate in the area being studied. Therefore, imaging may be done immediately, after a few hours or days after the radiotracer dose is given.
- Imaging is done by a special camera and you may be asked to change position in between. You will need to lie still while the camera is taking pictures.
- Depending on the type of test the length of actual scanning greatly varies from 20mminutes to several hours. Some test can even be done over several days. Young children may require sedation to calm and keep them still. The intravenous line will be removed after the procedure is finished.
Nuclear medicine therapy
- A radiologist or healthcare professional with training in nuclear medicine will interpret the images and give the results to your doctor.
Nuclear medicine can also be used in therapeutic procedures to treat medical conditions such as cancer and thyroid gland disorders. Some of the nuclear medicine therapeutic procedures include:
- Radioimmunotherapy (RIT): This is a cancer treatment that is personalized and it combines radiotherapy with immunotherapy. Patients with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may undergo radioimmunotherapy if they do not respond to chemotherapy.
- Radioactive iodine (I-131) therapy: This is used to treat some thyroid disorders such as thyroid cancer and Grave’s disease.
- Radioactive phosphorus (P-32): This is used to treat some blood disorders.
- Radioactive antibodies: These are used to treat certain cancers of the lymphatic system.
- Radioactive materials: These are used to treat tumor metastases to the bones.
- Metaiodobenzylguanidine (I-131 MIBG): This type of radioactive iodine is used to treat adrenal gland and nerve tissue tumors.
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