What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine is an innovative subspecialty of diagnostic radiology that detects disease or abnormalities in the body using radionuclides and a special camera called a gamma camera. A radionuclide is a combination of a pharmaceutical and a small quantity of radioactive material called a radioisotope. There are different radionuclides available to study different parts of the body. Each radionuclide is designed to travel to a specific body organ or system, where it then gives off energy as gamma rays. The gamma camera detects these rays and works with a computer to produce images and measurements of the organs and tissues. Nuclear medicine procedures can often eliminate the need for more invasive diagnostic tests.
Nuclear Medicine is used to diagnose and (in some cases) treat many types of diseases of the body including heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine, cancer, neurological disorders and other abnormalities. Nuclear scans use small amounts of radioactive material to provide accurate images to help healthcare providers study organs and tissues and how they are working. The heart, thyroid, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, lungs, and bones are some of the most routinely imaged areas of the body.
Nuclear medicine tests are noninvasive and, with the exception of intravenous injections, are usually painless. Because nuclear medicine procedures are able to pinpoint molecular activity within the body, they offer the potential to identify disease in its earliest stages.
How is nuclear imaging different than other radiologic tests?
The main difference between nuclear imaging and other radiologic tests is that nuclear imaging assesses how organs function, whereas other imaging methods assess anatomy, or how the organs look.
The advantage of assessing the function of an organ is that it helps physicians make a diagnosis and plan present or future treatments for the part of the body being evaluated.
The Imaging procedure:
The radiopharmaceutical used is determined by what part of the body or process is under investigation, as some compounds collect in specific organs or bind to specific receptors better than others. It is usually administered into a vein but can also be ingested or inhaled. It is extremely rare to feel any differently after the administration.
Depending on which type of scan is being performed, the imaging will be done either immediately, a few hours later, or even several days after the administration. Imaging times vary, generally ranging from 30 to 60 minutes. Some studies require a series of images at different times after the administration. Occasionally a study will require certain medications or foods to be stopped about which you would be informed.
While the images are being obtained, you must remain as still as possible. This is especially true when a series of images is obtained to show how an organ functions over time.
Throughout the procedure the Technologist checks the quality of the images to ensure that an optimal diagnostic study has been performed. Once the procedure is complete, it may take time to process and analyse the images before the doctors are able to make a report.
We provide a range of scans:
- Myocardial Perfusion SPECT - Octreotide Scintigraphy
- Myocardial Perfusion Gated SPECT - Whole body with I-131
- Myocardial Perfusion SPECT for viability assessment - Whole body Bone Scan
- Cerebral Perfusion SPECT - Thyroid Scan
- Pulmonary Perfusion Scan - Parathyroid scan
- DTPA Renal Scan - Scortal Imaging
- DMSA Scan - Liver & Spleen Scan
- Captopril Renal Scan - Hepatobiliary Scan
- Radionuclide Cystography - RBC Scan for Liver Hemangioma
- RBC Scan for GI Bleeding - Scintimamography
- Meckels Diverticulum Scan - Salivary Gland Scintigraphy
- Dacroscintigraphy - Whole body Scan with Thallium or MIB
- Lymphoscintigraphy - Gastric Emptying Scintigraphy
- Denatured RBC Scan - Urea Breathing Test (UBT)
- Radioiodine therapy - TSH, T3, T4, T3Ru IRIMA, Anti-TPO
- Bone Densitometry (DEXA) - DMSA (V)
- Sentinel Node Scintigraphy