Nuclear medicine is a subspecialty of medical imaging that uses tiny amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and determine the severity of various diseases, including multiple types of cancers, heart, gastrointestinal, endocrine, neurological disorders and other abnormalities within the Body.
Because nuclear medicine procedures can detect molecular activities in the Body, they offer the possibility of identifying diseases in their early stages, as well as the immediate responses of patients to therapeutic interventions.
Nuclear medicine imaging procedures, which are noninvasive, except for intravenous injection, are generally painless medical tests that help doctors diagnose and evaluate health problems.
Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam, the radiopharmaceutical can be injected into the Body, ingested orally, or inhaled as a gas and ultimately accumulates in the organ or area of the Body to be examined. Radioactive emissions from the radiopharmaceutical are detected by a special camera that produces photographs and detailed molecular information.
Nuclear medicine images can be overlaid with computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce multiple views, a practice known as image fusion. These views allow information from two exams to be correlated and interpreted on a single image, providing the more precise knowledge and accurate diagnoses.
Routine x-ray exams create an image by passing x-rays through the Body from an outside source. In this case, nuclear medicine procedures use a radioactive material called radiopharmaceutical that is injected into the bloodstream, taken by mouth, or inhaled as a gas.
Unlike other diagnostic imaging techniques, nuclear medicine exams focus on describing physiological processes in the Body rather than showing anatomy and structure. The areas of most incredible intensity indicate the accumulation zones of large amounts of radiopharmaceutical and where there are high levels of chemical-metabolic activity. Areas with less power, or “cold spots,” indicate a lower concentration of radiopharmaceutical and less chemical activity.
Nuclear medicine exams offer unique information (including details about function and structure) and are often unattainable by other imaging procedures.
Nuclear medicine offers the possibility of identifying diseases in their early stages, usually before symptoms appear or abnormalities can be detected with other diagnostic methods.
Because they can detect whether a lesion is benign or malignant, PET scans can eliminate the need for a surgical biopsy or identify the best site for a biopsy.
Due to the small doses of radiopharmaceuticals, nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures result in low but acceptable radiation exposure for diagnostic examinations. Therefore, the radiation risk is shallow compared to the possible benefits.
Nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures have been used for more than five decades, and there are no known long-term adverse effects from such low-dose exposure.
The resolution of body structures with nuclear medicine may be less than other imaging techniques, such as CT or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Among the central, highly specialised studies carried out at UDR, we have:
Cerebral Spect Evaluates cerebrovascular disease, infarction, ischemia, haemorrhage, neuropsychiatric disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, behavioural changes, dementia and seizure disorders. It is helpful in the detection and localisation of tumours.
Gastric emptying and gastroesophageal reflux study Useful in quantifying gastric emptying, detecting and evaluating reflux, upper digestive obstructions, alterations in peristaltic function, gastroparesis, scleroderma, amyloidosis, hiatal hernia, respiratory problems.
Parathyroid glands Evaluation of hyperplasia, adenomas, cancer, hypercalcaemia, elevated parathyroid hormone, postsurgical evaluation, search for ectopic tissue.
Mammary gland scintigraphy Detection of breast cancer, dense breasts, palpable masses, high-risk patients, the elevation of tumour markers, evaluation of therapy. difference between conventional imaging and molecular imaging
In conventional diagnostic imaging, external energy sources (such as x-rays, magnetic fields, or ultrasound waves) produce images of bone and soft tissue images. In molecular imaging procedures, the energy source is injected into the Body, where it is expressly incorporated into a particular tissue, organ, or molecular process, and then detected by an external device (gamma camera, SPECT camera, or PET camera) to provide information about the function of an organ and its activity.
Since diseases begin with microscopic changes, molecular imaging has the potential to identify conditions at a very early stage, when the possibility of treatment is wide.
Obtaining this information without the help of Molecular Imaging tests would require invasive procedures – such as biopsies or surgery – or would simply be impossible to get.
With this characteristic of being able to identify cellular changes, molecular imaging offers the possibility of changing medical attention to the patient and converting it into proactive engagement instead of reactive, improving the early detection of diseases and the possible treatments for them.
Specific kits for molecular diagnostic studies are now available for almost every central system and organ.
Molecular imaging is essential for medical care for patients with cancer, heart disease, and brain disorders.