Nuclear medicine and radiology use radiation. Radioactive materials, such as radio-pharmaceuticals and radioisotopes, are used in nuclear medicine. X-rays are entered into the body from outside in radiology. In modern hospitals, one-third of all the procedures involve radioactivity or radiation because these radioactive procedures are painless, safe, and effective. After all, anesthesia is not required. A small amount of radioactive material is used to diagnose or treat the disease. During diagnosis, a small camera called a “gamma camera” gives information about the illness or issue in the body. 

Uses of Nuclear Medicines

Nuclear medicine is used in a wide range of conditions. Some of the uses of nuclear medications are the following:

  • To notice the proper functioning of the kidney and to detect any drainage
  • To see blood clots and other respiratory disorders in the lungs
  • To scan brain functioning
  • To measure the functioning of thyroid glands
  • To detect arthritis, fracture, and infection in bones
  • To diagnose the blood flow and functioning of the heart
  • To see the presence of disease through white cell scanning
  • To treat thyroid disorders, swelling, bone pain, and knee joint pain

Types of Nuclear Medicine Scan

Nuclear medicine helps diagnose a lot of conditions and diseases. During diagnosis, a small amount of nuclear medicine is swallowed, inhaled, or injected into the patient’s body, which helps diagnose the disease with the help of the camera. 

Some of the common types of nuclear medicine scans and the uses of these scans are the following:

  • Bone or Joint Scan:

This test is used to detect abnormalities in bones and joints. During this process, a small amount of radioactive material is injected into the veins and taken to the bony structure. After 2 to 3 hours, pictures will be taken by the technician to detect abnormalities in the bones. This radioactive material then leaves the body through urine.

  • Gastric Emptying:

This test is used to detect the functioning of the stomach. During this test, the patient eats an egg or drinks a glass of water, and the doctor checks the time and procedure for digestion through imaging.

  • Hepatobiliary Scan: 

This test evaluates the gall bladder’s functioning and access to the bile ducts. In this process, radioactive material is injected into the body, and pictures are taken with the help of a special camera to detect issues or diseases.

  • Meckel’s Scan:

This test is used to detect Meckel’s diverticulum in the human body. It is usually suggested for children, and this test is also used when patients have a history of bleeding into the gastrointestinal system. In this test, radioactive materials are inserted into the body, and imaging is done after 45 minutes of injection. 

  • Renal Scan:

In this test, the doctors detect kidney blood flow and functioning. A small amount of radioactive material is inserted into the veins, which shows the amount of blood flow and function of the kidneys with the help of images after 30 minutes of injection.

  • Gallium Scan:

It is used to detect the presence of any infection or tumor in the human body. Radioactive material is injected, pictures are taken with a special camera, and imaging takes place after 24, 48, and 96 hours of injection. 

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Study:

This test determines whether gastric juice moves reversely from the stomach to the esophagus. In this test, a small amount of radioactive material is mixed with the drink of the patients. A binder is used to take accurate pictures of the abdomen and stomach. 

  • Liver or Spleen Scan:

This test helps detect the size and functioning of the liver and spleen. Radioactive material is inserted into the veins, and imaging is done to see the issues in the liver or spleen.

  • MUGA Scan: 

This test is used to detect heart functioning and is usually taken by patients undergoing chemotherapy. This test takes about an hour. During this test, a small amount of blood is taken and mixed with the radioisotope. This mixture is then injected into the body of the patients, and images will be taken after 10 minutes.

  • SPECT Brain Scan:

This test is used to detect the altered blood flow in the brain and is also helpful in diagnosing vascular brain disorders. During this test, medicines are administered into the patient’s body with the help of an IV. It usually takes one to two hours, and images will be taken after 45 minutes of IV.

  • SPECT Liver Scan:

This test is usually done after a CT scan, ultrasound, or MRI to diagnose the tumor in the liver. In this test, the technician mixes a small amount of blood with an isotope and then again injects it into your body, and takes imaging 1 to 2 hours after injection.

  • Thyroid Scan and Uptake (Radionuclide Iodine uptake):

This test is used to detect the functioning of thyroid glands by measuring the uptake of iodine by thyroid glands. This test usually takes two days. On day one, a radiologist will ask you to take a radioactive iodine pill, and the technician will take the thyroid gland pictures five to six hours after taking the radioactive iodine pill; then, the radiologist will review your test. On the second day, You are asked to come for a 24-hour iodine uptake measurement. The radiologist will again review your test and examine your thyroid glands’ functioning.

Nuclear Medicine Treatment

Nuclear medicines are not only used to scan or diagnose the disease but are also helpful in different treatment methods. Some of them are the following:

  • Radioactive iodine(I-131) treats hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer, and overactive thyroid. It is also used to treat bone pain in different types of cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Iodine-131(I-131) also targeted radionuclide therapy(TRT) and induced radioactive iodine into the human body. When the body’s cancer cells or thyroid cells absorb these substances, it kills them. 
  • Radioimmunotherapy combined with nuclear therapy helps mimic cellular activity and targets the cells that need this therapy.
  • Theranostics is a combined term for diagnostics and therapeutics. This nuclear medicine technique is used for diagnosing and treating targeted cells with the help of molecular targeting vectors, such as radionuclides and peptides.
  • I-131, or radioactive iodine therapy(RAI), is the most common radionuclide used for treatment. Other options include Zevalin or ibritumomab tiuxetan, which help treat many types of lymphoma. Bexxar and 131-I tositumomab are also used to treat lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

Reference list

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