What does nuclear medicine diagnose?
Nuclear medicine is used to diagnose a variety of disease.
These include many types of cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and neurological disorders and other abnormalities within the body.
Nuclear medicine is a subspecialty of radiology that helps evaluate different organ systems. These include the kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, thyroid, and bones.
The patient is given small amounts of radioisotopes such as technetium-99m.
Often the radioisotope is combined with a chemical known to accumulate in the target organ.
When the tracer collects in the organ, a special camera detects gamma rays emitted by the isotope.
A computer receives the information and uses it to produce images and other information.
In many centres, nuclear medicine images can be superimposed with CAT scans, MRI scans, and PET scans. These views can be interpreted as one image. This leads to more precise information and accurate diagnoses.
Above is an image from a nuclear medicine cardiac stress test. The yellow arrows point to an area of the heart that has a coronary artery blockage.