How Can Nuclear Medicine Benefit You?
Everyone is familiar with traditional x-rays that use low amounts of radiation to take pictures of broken bones. What you may not realize is how nuclear medicine has advanced to provide valuable diagnostic and treatment tools for a wide variety of medical conditions.
What Is Nuclear Medicine?
In nuclear medicine, doctors introduce tiny amounts of radiation called radiotracers into the bloodstream via injection, gas inhalation, or by mouth. These radiotracers emit gamma rays from the targeted area of body that are recorded by specialized cameras and computers to generate a picture from inside of the body. Other diagnostic tools can’t produce these types of images, making nuclear medicine a uniquely powerful tool in the early detection of diseases.
What Does Nuclear Medicine Involve?
Nuclear medicine images show physiological processes in the body such as metabolism rates and chemical activity rather than just depicting the anatomy of an organ or structure. “Hot spots” are areas where large amounts of the radiotracer have amassed, indicating high metabolic or chemical activity. “Cold spots” are less metabolically active areas that haven’t absorbed as much of the radiotracer.
Images gathered through nuclear medicine can be merged with other diagnostic images recorded by MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT scans (computed tomography). Combining these images gives doctor more accurate information to form their diagnoses and formulate treatment options.
What Are Some Common Uses of Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine is useful to assess the function of organs, tissues, bones, and other systems in the body. The most common uses include:
- Heart: Evaluating heart function to find coronary artery disease and heart damage, evaluating the success of prior treatments, detecting heart transplant rejection, and much more.
- Lungs: Evaluating lung function, assessing respiratory and blood flow levels, determining lung transplant rejection, and more.
- Bones: Evaluating bones for fractures, tumors, infections, arthritis, metastatic bone diseases, prosthetic joint pain, and finding the best sites for biopsies.
- Brain: Evaluating chemicals and abnormalities in the brain that could cause Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, seizures, tumors, and locating the best areas for surgery or biopsies.
- Other Systems: Detecting abnormalities in the gallbladder, finding the source of bleeding in the bowel, measuring thyroid and parathyroid functions, and more.
Nuclear medicine is also useful in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and kidney disease.
What Types of Nuclear Medicine are Available at Neighborhood Radiology?
At Neighborhood Radiology Services, we offer the following nuclear medicine scans:
- Bone scans
- Hepatobiliary (liver, gallbladder, and biliary system) scans
- Liver and spleen scans
- Thyroid scans
What Are the Benefits of Nuclear Medicine Testing?
Nuclear medicine offers many benefits to patients who undergo the procedure, including:
- Providing detailed information about organs and other body structures that can’t be obtained from other imaging devices
- Providing the most important information needed by a doctor to diagnose and treat diseases
- Preventing patients from undergoing expensive and painful exploratory surgery
- Eliminating the need for biopsies in some cases
- Detecting diseases early, making treatment less invasive
The board-certified physicians of Neighborhood Radiology Services are highly trained in the use of nuclear medicine in addition to other imaging services. Contact the team today to learn more about our practice. With six locations in Greater NYC to serve you, we offer our patients the highest level of personalized care. Fill out the form on this page to request an appointment or call 800-220-2220 to learn more.