Nuclear Medicine Imaging
Nuclear medicine is a subspecialty within the field of Radiology. Nuclear medicine imaging provides important information to physicians about structures as well as functions of organs and systems within the body and can identify abnormalities very early in the progress of a disease.
Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive materials (a radioisotope); the amount of radiation a patient receives is similar to that from a standard X-ray. The radioactive material collects in the organ or system being examined and gives off energy in the form of gamma rays, which are detected using a gamma camera. The cameras can be stationary or move around the body and allow a physician to see what is happening inside the body.
Nuclear medicine imaging can help doctors more easily evaluate organ function and diagnose diseases such as tumors or infections. It can also analyze kidney function; image blood flow and function of the heart; scan lungs for respiratory or blood flow problems; evaluate bones for fractures, infections, tumors, or arthritis; identify diseases of the gall bladder; measure thyroid function, identify bleeding in the bowel; and, determine the presence and spread of cancer.