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NUCLEAR MEDICINE

What is nuclear medicine?

Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive materials or radiopharmaceuticals, substances that are attracted to specific organs, bones, or tissues. The radiopharmaceuticals used in nuclear medicine emit gamma rays that can be detected externally by special types of cameras: gamma or PET cameras. These cameras work in conjunction with computers used to form images that provide data and information about the area of body being imaged.

How safe is nuclear medicine?

The amount of radiation from a nuclear medicine procedure is comparable to that received during a diagnostic X-ray. It falls to insignificant levels within a few days after your treatment.

What will I experience during a nuclear medicine scan?

Depending upon what your nuclear medicine scan is for, you either will not need to do anything to prepare for your scan or may be asked to not eat for a certain period of time before your appointment. The exact procedure and how long it will take will also depend upon the reason for your scan.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a nuclear medicine procedure?

Nuclear medicine can be used to pinpoint lesions inside the body or determine whether a patient’s organs are functioning properly, without surgery. It is particularly useful for assessing damage to a patient’s heart after a heart attack and for examining the brain in patients with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s. Nuclear medicine can also be used to evaluate the function of a patient’s thyroid, liver, lungs, and/or gallbladder.

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