What is Nuclear Medicine?

A nuclear medicine exam is a safe and painless procedure that utilizes a very small amount of radioactive material (radiopharmaceutical) to detect, diagnose and treat disease. The procedures often identify abnormalities very early in the progression of a disease—long before some medical problems are apparent with other diagnostic tests.

Images produced through nuclear medicine

Nuclear medicine differs from other exams, such as X-Ray, CT or MRI because it images organ function, rather than just anatomy. For example, nuclear medicine allows your doctor to see how a kidney is functioning –not just what it looks like. In comparison, most other diagnostic imaging tests reveal only structure. Common nuclear medicine procedures include thyroid studies, bone scans, lung scans, cardiac stress tests and liver & gallbladder procedures.

Derry Imaging offers many different types of nuclear medicine scans; some of the more common exams include Bone, Thyroid, Gallbladder and Cardiac scans including Nuclear Stress Testing.

How it works

Radiopharmaceticals are substances that are attracted to specific organs, bones or tissues. A very small amount are introduced into the patent’s body by injection, swallowing or inhalation. The radiation is equivalent or less than what one would receive during a typical X-Ray and the body eliminates it through natural means.

As the radiopharmaceutical travels through the body, it produces radioactive emissions known as gamma rays. These rays are then detected using a special camera called a gamma camera that works with computers to form images of the organ, bone or tissue being imaged. The images formed provide data about the body area in question.