Nuclear imaging uses radioactive materials, which are known as radiotracers. In most cases, the materials are injected directly into the bloodstream, swallowed or inhaled. As the radiotracers travel through the body, they release gamma rays.
A special camera is used to detect the energy from the gamma rays, and a computer is used to process the information sent from the camera. This process makes it possible to see inside of your body in a way that wouldn’t be possible without nuclear imaging.
It provides unique information about the structures within your body, which aren’t obtainable through other imaging techniques. The greatest benefit of nuclear imaging is that it can be used to identify diseases in their earliest stages, which is why it’s regularly used to detect different types of cancer.
What is Nuclear Medicine?
It’s a type of medical imaging and uses radioactive material. Once it’s inside of your body, the radioactive material lets us diagnose diseases and detect the severity.
Nuclear medicine is commonly used to diagnose several types of neurological, endocrine and gastrointestinal diseases. It can work well for detecting heart disease and different types of cancer.
It’s effective for detecting a wide variety of abnormalities. Nuclear medicine is able to pinpoint specific molecular activity inside of the body, so it’s capable of detecting a disease in its earliest stages.
How Does It Work?
Nuclear imaging is a non-invasive procedure, and in most cases, it doesn’t involve much discomfort. The procedure is used to diagnose and evaluate various medical conditions.
Radiotracers can be inhaled, swallowed or injected into the body, and over time, they’ll accumulate inside of the organ that is being observed. The camera used for the procedure takes pictures and provides important molecular information. It’s not uncommon for the images taken during the procedure to be superimposed onto a CT or MRI scan, which provides a special type of view.
A number of therapeutic procedures are associated with nuclear medicine. A great example is radioactive iodine therapy, which fights cancer using radioactive material. If patients don’t respond well to chemotherapy, they can be treated with radio immunotherapy. Also called RIT, this type of therapy is very personalized for each patient.
What is Nuclear Imaging Used for?
After a heart attack, nuclear imaging can be used to assess the damage to the organ. It can be used to visualize the blood flowing through the heart. It can detect heart transplant rejection and detect coronary artery disease. Nuclear imaging might also be used to scan the bones, lungs and brain. It’s commonly used to investigate various abnormalities inside of the brain.
If you need to undergo nuclear imaging, you shouldn’t fear the procedure. In most cases, it’s performed as an outpatient procedure. The procedure is very similar to what you’d experience with other types of scans, but it requires the administration of the radiotracers, which are injected at our office.
Schedule a Consultation Today
We encourage you to visit Cardiology Consultants of Southwest Florida to learn more about how a nuclear imaging exam can benefit you. Our office is located in Fort Myers. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.