Nuclear Medicine

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear medicine is a specialized progressive specialty used to diagnose and treat diseases in a safe and painless way. Nuclear medicine helps in identifying the abnormalities and organ malfunctioning at an early stage- long before the same are apparent with other diagnostic tests.

Why is it called Nuclear Medicine?

This field of specialization includes the use of radioisotopes (radioactive material). Hence a combination of drugs and radioisotopes is used in the same. They help in studying the different internal parts of the body.  Depending on the part of the body that is to be diagnosed or treated the dose and location is decided.

How does it work?

A small amount of the radio isotopes is introduced in the body of the patient by injection, swallowing or inhalation. The dose is very small and does not harm the body in any way. The introduced drug and the radioisotope travel to the specific place in the body under investigation. The radioisotope then emits the radiation known as gamma rays (similar to x-rays) which is then detected by a state of the art Gamma Camera.

How does a Gamma Camera help in Imaging?

The state of the art specialized camera helps the physicians to see what is happening inside your body. As the patient is lying down scans are taken. These scans are taken by all angles and depending on the picture the size of the camera is also chosen. The camera can also move around the body of the patient. The machine doesn’t produce any sound or transmit any harmful radiations.

What kind of diseases can be diagnosed by Nuclear Medicine?

  • Nuclear medicine can diagnose a wide range of diseases. It can be used to diagnose abnormal lesions deep in the body without exploratory surgery. The procedure can also determine whether certain organs are functioning normally or not. For eg, nuclear medicine can determine whether the heart can pump adequately, if the brain is receiving adequate blood supply and if the brain cells are functioning properly or not. After a heart attack, nuclear medicine procedures can assess the damage to the heart.
  • It can also determine if the kidneys are working normally and if the stomach is emptying normally. It can also determine the patient’s blood volume, lung function, vitamin absorption and bone density.
  • It can also detect the smallest bone fracture, before the same is detected on an X-ray.
  • With nuclear medicine identification of seizures – epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease can be done. It also helps to detect, monitor cancers.

Can Nuclear Medicine treat diseases?

Yes, thousands of patients worldwide with hyperthyroidism are treated with nuclear medicine (using radioactive iodine). It can also be used in certain kinds of cancers- lymphomas and in the treatment of bone pain in terminally ill patients.

How is Nuclear Medicine different from X Ray, CT, MRI?

In Xray, MRI and CT procedures the patients are exposed to radiation from the outside using machines. Hence the radiation from an external source passes through the body. However in nuclear medicine the imaging is based on the radiation coming from inside the body. Hence nuclear medicine determines the cause of the medical problem based on the organ function in contrast to the other diagnostic tests, that determine the presence of disease based on anatomy or structural appearances.

Does Nuclear Medicine need specialized doctors?

Yes, at Paras HMRI the doctors, physicians are specially trained and they supervise the procedure at all times.

Should pregnant and nursing mothers avoid Nuclear Medicine tests?

For nursing mother, it is advisable to stop breast feeding of at least one day depends on test. Pregnant mothers are not advised nuclear medicine.

Am I at risk after a Nuclear Medicine Procedure?

Nuclear medicine is a safe and helpful field of science that is useful in the management and diagnosis of diseases. After and before the test you should drink a lot of fluids so that you flush out the radioactivity out of your body. The length of time you need to do this depends on the kind of study you had and the type of drug radioisotope that was used. It is best to consult your doctor at all times for directions.

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