Why are isotopes used in nuclear medicine?
Isotopes are used in nuclear medicine because they can be inserted into tracer molecules that accumulate in specific organs and help to diagnose disease.
These include many types of cancers, heart disease, and other abnormalities within the body.
Often a radioisotope such as technetium-99m 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 diagnosis.
The image above combines two different types of scans t locate a bone cancer.