Nuclear medicine examinations :Benefits

 What are Nuclear medicine examinations?

Nuclear medication is a specialized place of radiology that uses very small quantities of radioactive materials, or radiopharmaceuticals, to study organ features and shape. Nuclear medicinal drug imaging is a combination of many exclusive disciplines. These consist of chemistry, physics, arithmetic, pc era, and medicine. This department of radiology is frequently used to assist diagnose and deal with abnormalities very early inside the development of a disease, including thyroid and most cancers.

Because X-rays bypass through smooth tissue, consisting of intestines, muscle groups, and blood vessels, these tissues are tough to visualize on a widespread X-ray, except a contrast agent is used. This lets in the tissue to be seen greater clearly. Nuclear imaging allows visualization of organ and tissue structure in addition to function. The volume to which a radiopharmaceutical is absorbed, or "taken up," with the aid of a specific organ or tissue may suggest the level of function of the organ or tissue being studied. Thus, diagnostic X-rays are used frequently to examine anatomy. Nuclear imaging is used to take a look at organ and tissue features.

A tiny amount of a radioactive substance is used at some point of the method to assist in the examination. The radioactive substance, referred to as a radionuclide (radiopharmaceutical or radioactive tracer), is absorbed by frame tissue. Several one-of-a-kind forms of radionuclides are to be had. These include forms of the elements technetium, thallium, gallium, iodine, and xenon. The type of radionuclide used will rely on the type of study and the body component being studied.

After the radionuclide has been given and has accrued in the body tissue beneath have a look at, radiation might be given off. This radiation is detected by a radiation detector. The most not unusual type of detector is the gamma digital camera. Digital indicators are produced and stored by way of a computer while the gamma digital camera detects the radiation.

By measuring the behavior of the radionuclide in the frame in the course of a nuclear test, the healthcare company can investigate and diagnose various conditions, such as tumors, infections, hematomas, organ enlargement, or cysts. A nuclear test may also be used to assess organ features and blood movement.

The areas wherein the radionuclide collects in greater amounts are known as "warm spots." The regions that don't take in the radionuclide and appear less vibrant on the experiment photo are known as "bloodless spots."

In planar imaging, the gamma digicam stays desk bound. The resulting snap shots are two-dimensional (2D). Single photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT, produces axial "slices" of the organ in question due to the fact the gamma digital camera rotates around the patient. These slices are much like those achieved by using a CT experiment. In certain times, including PET scans, three-dimensional (3D) photos can be accomplished using the SPECT data. 

Nuclear remedy is a clinical speciality that involves giving a affected person a small quantity of radioactive remedy, called a radiopharmaceutical. This makes the frame slightly radioactive for a brief time. A special nuclear remedy digital camera detects the radiation that is emitted (released) from the frame, and takes photos or photographs of the way the inside of the body is working. Many one-of-a-kind organs can be imaged relying on the kind of radioactive medicinal drug used. The radioactive medicine is most typically injected into the blood circulate via a vein, but might be given in unique methods, including:

  • swallowed

  • injected directly into the tissue beneath the skin

  • injected into a shunt

  • injected into a joint

  • inhaled (breathed in)

Only a totally small amount of radiopharmaceutical is given to maintain the radiation dose to a minimum.

Nuclear remedy can also be used to treat some sicknesses or situations. In those instances, the quantity of radiopharmaceutical given is a great deal extra, and it commonly goes to the diseased or strange organ. The type of radiopharmaceutical given normally emits ionizing radiation that has the maximum effect on the part of the body or organ machine being treated.


Nuclear medicine examinations are medical procedures that involve the use of small amounts of radioactive materials, known as radiopharmaceuticals, to diagnose and treat various medical conditions. These examinations offer several benefits:

  • Early Disease Detection: Nuclear medicine can detect diseases and abnormalities at an early stage, often before they become symptomatic. This allows for timely intervention and treatment.

  • Accurate Diagnosis: Nuclear medicine provides highly detailed and accurate images of the body's internal structures and functions. This can help healthcare professionals pinpoint the exact location and extent of a disease or condition.

  • Customized Treatment Planning: In addition to diagnosis, nuclear medicine can be used to assess how a patient is responding to treatment. It helps healthcare providers adjust treatment plans based on real-time information.

  • Non-Invasive: Most nuclear medicine examinations are non-invasive, meaning they do not require surgery or other invasive procedures. This can reduce the risk of complications and shorter recovery times.

  • Minimal Radiation Exposure: The amount of radiation used in nuclear medicine exams is generally considered safe and low-risk. The benefits of an accurate diagnosis often outweigh the potential risks associated with radiation exposure.

  • Personalized Medicine: Nuclear medicine allows for personalized treatment plans. It can help determine the most appropriate treatment for an individual based on their specific condition and how their body responds to treatment.

  • Monitoring Disease Progression: Nuclear medicine can be used to monitor the progression of chronic diseases, such as cancer or heart disease, over time. This information is valuable for adjusting treatment and assessing the effectiveness of interventions.

  • Research and Drug Development: Nuclear medicine techniques are also used in medical research, including drug development and clinical trials. They help researchers better understand disease mechanisms and evaluate the efficacy of new treatments.

  • Pain Management: Nuclear medicine can be used to locate and manage sources of pain, such as bone metastases in cancer patients. This can lead to improved pain relief and quality of life for patients.

  • Reduced Need for Exploratory Surgery: Nuclear medicine exams can often replace exploratory surgery by providing essential diagnostic information. This reduces the risks and costs associated with surgery and anesthesia.

While nuclear medicine examinations offer numerous benefits, it's essential to acknowledge that they are not suitable for all patients or medical conditions. The decision to undergo a nuclear medicine procedure should always be made in consultation with a healthcare provider who can assess individual risks and benefits. Additionally, strict safety protocols are followed to minimize radiation exposure during these exams.

Differences in nuclear medicine from x-rays and computed tomography scans

During an ordinary X-ray or CT examination, a photo is formed from the ‘shadow’ created by means of the body as it's far positioned between the X-ray gadget (source of the X-ray beam) and the X-ray detector. The frame stops some, however no longer all, of the X-rays and the patient isn't always made radioactive via the X-rays.

In nuclear medicine research, the radiopharmaceutical given to the patient makes them, and the organ device or frame element being studied, radioactive for a quick time. This ionizing radiation (typically a gamma ray) is emitted or launched from the frame, and may be detected and measured by the use of a nuclear medicine gamma digicam. All residing matters incorporate some radioisotopes (inclusive of carbon 14 and potassium forty); a nuclear medicinal drug study will make them ‘more radioactive than everyday’ for a quick time – hours or days.

An X-ray or CT image is shaped from ionizing radiation (X-rays) that passes through the body, but does not now stand up from the body; while a nuclear medicine picture is formed from the ionizing radiation (typically gamma rays) emitted from within the body. A gamma ray has comparable houses to an X-ray, but it arises from the nucleus of an atom, whereas an X-ray arises from the electron shell of an atom.

Another way that nuclear remedy isn't like X-ray and CT examinations is that an X-ray observer shows what something seems like. This gives oblique information about how it is operating: normally, abnormally, diseased, injured and so on. In nuclear medication studies, the radiopharmaceutical typically only goes to the part of the body or organ machine if it has some characteristic and so suggests how it's working. The photos can also deliver statistics about what the frame component or organ machine looks like.

Nuclear medicinal drug and X-ray tests are often complementary, imparting distinct records that collectively make an analysis extra positive.

Nuclear medicine technologists

Nuclear medication technologists are fitness specialists who've obtained a college diploma in nuclear medicine, which amongst other matters qualifies them to:

  • measure and use radiopharmaceuticals

  • give injections and take blood samples

  • use nuclear medicine gamma cameras

  • use computers to process and analyze nuclear medicine studies

  • understand diseases investigated or treated by nuclear medicine

  • deal with patients professionally


A radiopharmaceutical is a medicinal drug utilized in nuclear remedy that has a radioactive component and a pharmaceutical element.

The radioactive component is once in a while called a radioactive label or a radioactive tracer. The radioactive element is an unstable detail (radioisotope) that gives off electricity as it decays (disintegrates or breaks down) and changes to a special detail or electricity nation. The actual amount of the radioactive substance given for most imaging exams is usually very small; approximately millionths of a gram. The dose of ionizing radiation acquired through a patient having a nuclear medicinal drug taken can be very low or slight; the dose varies among one-of-a-kind forms of research. The ionizing radiation is in a similar range to that obtained from computed tomography (CT) imaging. The radioactive component is most usually Technetium 99m, however different radioisotopes together with iodine 123, indium 111 and gallium 67 are also used. Fluorine 18 is a radioisotope used in positron emission tomography (PET) imaging.

The frame does not sense the ionizing radiation, and it does not make you ‘hotter’ or ‘glow inside the darkish’. The range of times the nuclear medication camera takes pictures no longer determines the dose of ionizing radiation received in the course of a nuclear remedy check. It is decided by the kind and amount of radiopharmaceutical injected, the half-life of the radioisotope and how quickly that is eliminated from the frame in urine, stools or breath. The half-life is the time taken for 1/2 of the radioactive atoms to decay or exchange their strength state. For most radioisotopes utilized in nuclear medicinal drugs, this half-life is measured in hours, so after an afternoon or so there's little or no radioactivity final.

The pharmaceutical component may be some atoms or a complicated molecule that enables taking the radioactive element to the place of the frame being studied. It is usually the choice of the pharmaceutical element that determines wherein the radiopharmaceutical will move in the frame and what organ machine may be shown. Technetium 99m MDP is used for a nuclear bone experiment, whereas technetium 99m MAG3 is used for a nuclear renal test.

Gamma camera

A gamma camera is a machine that is able to hit upon and make snapshots from the very small quantities of ionizing radiation emitted from sufferers having a nuclear remedy look at. The gamma digital camera typically has a desk, often slender, on which the affected person lies. The images are taken using the digital camera ‘head’.

A camera would possibly have one, two or now and again three heads, with one or extra being used to attain the images. Each camera head has a flat surface that needs to be very close to the patient. The digicam head is probably supported in a number of one of a kind methods using robust metal arms or a gantry. There are no uncommon sensations related to having photographs excited by a gamma camera and the machine makes no noise.


A nuclear remedy scan consists of three phases: tracer (radionuclide) management, taking images, and image interpretation. The quantity of time between management of the tracer and the taking of the pics may additionally range from a few moments to three days. The time depends on the body tissue being tested and the tracer getting used. Some scans are completed in minutes, whilst others may also want the patient to return a few times over the route of several days.

One of the most usually finished nuclear medication checks is a heart scan. Myocardial perfusion scans and radionuclide angiography scans are the two number one coronary heart scans. In order to offer an instance of how nuclear medicine scans are done, the system for a resting radionuclide angiogram (RNA) test is offered underneath.

Although every facility may also have unique protocols in place, normally, a resting RNA follows this system:

  • The affected person might be requested to cast off any earrings or different gadgets which could interfere with the process.

  • If the patient is asked to remove clothing, he or she will be given a gown to wear.

  • An intravenous (IV) line will be started in the hand or arm.

  • The affected person could be related to an electrocardiogram (ECG) gadget with electrodes (leads) and a blood strain cuff might be connected to the arm.

  • The patient will lie flat on a table in the procedure room.

  • The radionuclide can be injected into the vein to "tag" the red blood cells. Alternatively, a small quantity of blood can be withdrawn from the vein so that it is able to be tagged with the radionuclide. The radionuclide will be delivered to the blood and could be absorbed into the pink blood cells.

  • After the tagging method, the blood may be once more into the vein thru the IV tube. The development of the tagged pink blood cells thru the coronary heart may be traced with a scanner..

  • During the method, it will be very vital to lie as still as possible. Any motion can adversely affect the exception of the test.

  • The gamma camera could be placed over the patient as she or he lies at the table, and will obtain snap shots of the coronary heart because it pumps the blood through the frame.

  • The patient may be requested to alternate positions in the course of the test. However, once the position has been modified, the patient will need to lie nevertheless without speaking.

  • After the scan is complete, the IV line might be discontinued. The patient could be allowed to depart, until the healthcare provider offers distinctive instructions.

Types of Nuclear medicine examinations

Nuclear medicine is a diagnostic medical imaging technique that uses small amounts of radioactive materials called radiopharmaceuticals or radiotracers When injected or ingested by patients these radiopharmaceuticals can be used to identify and treat many diseases because they concentrate in the organ or tissue being examined Each type of radiopharmaceutical has a different half-life (the time it takes for one-half of the material to decay) and thus emits radiation for different lengths of time.

Doctorate Programs Nuclear medicine doctorate programs are designed for medical doctors (MDs or DOs) who want to further their education in nuclear medicine The main goal of a nuclear medicine doctorate program is to prepare students for clinical practice and/or research in the field of nuclear medicine Students typically study topics like radiopharmaceutical design radiation physics radionuclide kinetics and imaging After completing a doctoral degree program graduates can pursue careers as clinical practitioners researchers or administrators at hospitals or universities.

There are numerous varieties of nuclear medicine experiment sorts, and Atlantic Medical Imaging is prepared to offer many of them. Our board certified radiologists will be happy to reply to your questions and guide you through the complete system.

Bone or Joint Scan

The purpose for this check is to find out if there are any bizarre regions inside the bones or joints. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the vein, which is then taken up by the bony skeleton. Pictures are taken 2 to three hours after the injection. Sometimes it is essential to take simple radiographs (x-rays) of the bones to be able to similarly examine any atypical areas. The radioactive cloth will go away through the urine.

Gallium Scan

The cause for this take a look at is to discover contamination or tumor. Pictures are serious about a special camera. Depending for your scientific records, imaging will either be at 24, 48 or 96 hours after the injection of a radioactive cloth. The patient may also need to take an enema to examine the stomach. The radioactive fabric will leave the frame through the urine.

Gastric Emptying

This test is to evaluate the features of the stomach. Solid - the affected person will eat a scrambled egg and start imaging right away for two hours. Liquid - the affected person will drink a glass of water and imaging will begin right away for 60 minutes.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Study

The reason for this test is to find out if liquid material moves in a reverse direction from the stomach to the esophagus, also referred to as reflux. A small amount of radioactive material is blended with a liquid that the affected person drinks. A binder is located at the stomach to push down at the stomach. Pictures are then taken. At the end of this check, the binder is removed. The radioactive cloth will leave the frame through the urine.

Hepatobiliary Scan

The cause for this check is to assess gallbladder features and to evaluate the bile ducts. The patient is injected with a radioactive fabric and then pics are at once inquisitive about a special digital camera for at least one hour and probably up to 3 hours.

Liver or Spleen Scan

The reason for this test is to discover the dimensions and characteristics of the liver and spleen. A small amount of radioactive fabric is injected into the vein. Pictures of the liver and spleen are taken. The radioactive cloth will leave the body via the urine.

Meckel's Scan

The purpose for this study is to discover if the patient has a Meckel's diverticulum. This observation is regularly accomplished on kids. This is sometimes accomplished whilst the affected person has a record of bleeding into the gastrointestinal gadget. Pictures are taken properly after the injection for a period of forty five minutes. The radioactive fabric will depart the body through the urine.


This check evaluates the characteristic of the heart and is regularly executed on patients who could be receiving chemotherapy. The affected person has a small amount of blood drawn which is then combined with the radioisotope. This mixture is then reinjected into the affected person and imaging starts about 10 minutes later. The take a look at takes approximately one hour.

Renal Scan

The purpose for this test is to evaluate the blood waft as well as the level of characteristic of the kidneys. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the vein. Pictures are taken right after the injection. A laptop is used to calculate the amount of blood drift and characteristics of each kidney. Pictures are taken for a length of 30 minutes. The radioactive fabric will depart the body through the urine.

SPECT Brain Scan

This is a 2 part test. The first part of the take a look at includes an injection. An IV can be placed within the patient's arm and the drugs can be administered through it. This takes about half an hour. The affected person may additionally then depart but will go back in approximately 1 half of hours for imaging. The imaging part of the take a look at takes about forty five minutes.

SPECT Liver Scan (Red Blood Cell Scan of Liver)

This take a look at is often carried out as a followup to a CT Scan, MRI or Ultrasound to rule out a benign liver tumor (hemangioma). This is a 2 element check. The first component will take 1/2 hour. The technologist will draw a small amount of blood from the affected person and mix the isotope with it. The blood is then re-injected into the affected person. The affected person may additionally then go away but ought to return about 1 half of hours later for imaging. The images will take 45 minutes.

Thyroid Scan and Uptake (Radionuclide Iodine Uptake)

This exam determines how nicely the thyroid gland is functioning by means of measuring the uptake of iodine through the thyroid gland. In addition, pictures of the thyroid gland are acquired. The take a look at is completed over the course of two days. On the first day, you'll be given a radioactive iodine pill after which you will be requested to go back in six hours for the primary uptake determination as well as photos of the gland. On the second day, you may be asked to go back for a 24-hour iodine uptake dimension. At this time, the radiologist will assess your take a look at and may determine to examine your thyroid gland. Additional pictures of the gland can be acquired through the radiologist after reviewing the study and the physical examination. The radioactive iodine may be cleared through your kidneys within the urine. Since the iodine will also be excreted in breast milk, it's far advised that breastfeeding be discontinued for as a minimum forty eight hours after the examination.

Risks Nuclear medicine examinations

Nuclear remedy scans are usually safe and were round in some form for about 50 years. The radiation dose that you get is generally very low and doesn’t pose critical health risks.

Some human beings have an hypersensitivity to the tracer material. But it’s commonly mild and doesn’t last very lengthy.

Tell your health practitioner if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding due to the fact they will want to take positive protection precautions or exchange the timing and form of scan.

There are minimum risks in having a nuclear medicinal drug take a look at. These are allergic reactions and radiation hazards.

  1. Allergic reactions have been defined, but are very rare and almost always minor. If you've ever had an hypersensitive reaction to a medicine, you need to inform the technologist, nurse or doctor supervising your study earlier than you have the radiopharmaceutical. In maximum instances, there might be no cause to cancel the study, but you might be determined more carefully during the take a look at to make sure any reaction is treated accurately.

  2. Radiation risk

For children and adults

  • The take a look at entails a small dose of radiation from the radiopharmaceutical medication. The dose is much like CT and fluoroscopy tactics. As for all imaging research related to ionizing radiation, it's far more important that careful attention is given to sporting an alternative test that does not contain ionizing radiation (including ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)). The radiation dose acquired from bone scans and renal scans is minimized via encouraging the affected person to drink more clear fluid after the test. Nuclear medicinal drug studies are used in youngsters, and the dose of the radiopharmaceutical given is adjusted to the patient’s weight. See Radiation Risk of Medical Imaging in Adults and Children.

For pregnant women

  • Imaging of pregnant girls with ionizing radiation, from X-rays, CT scans and nuclear medication studies, is typically prevented if possible. When it's miles required, it also includes carried out after discussion with the supervising nuclear remedy specialist. Pregnant girls do occasionally have nuclear medicine research, but this is normally handiest for blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary emboli (PE)). The radiation dose and associated dangers of a lung experiment to the affected person and fetus (unborn child) are small in evaluation to the risk of no longer diagnosing the PE. The dose given is decreased to minimize the radiation dose similarly. See Radiation Risk of Medical Imaging During Pregnancy.

  • For breast-feeding sufferers and/or the ones having close touch with children

  • If a person having a nuclear medication experiment is breast-feeding and has near contact with youngsters, there may be useless radiation surpassed directly to the child. Breast-feeding and near contact might want to be confined, relying on the radiopharmaceutical used. More particular statistics and restriction instances can be acquired from the nuclear medicine technologist or expert sporting out the have a look at. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) has tips regarding breast-feeding and close touch with kids after nuclear medication assessments. See nuclear medicinal drug referrer section for similar records.

  • If breast-feeding needs to be restrained, the milk can be expressed and saved (returned to the refrigerator or frozen) for later use (after the restriction duration).

  • If close touch with an infant wishes to be minimized, it is important to take into account the emotional wishes of the kid. If the child desires a cuddle then this must occur. The toddler can be touched or kissed, but if any other carer is to be had to comfort the child, then this will be superior. If the child is happy and/or content material, then a secure distance of 2–3 meters ought to be maintained among the child and the person that obtained the radiopharmaceutical.

Next Post Previous Post