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Nuclear Imaging: An Overview

As much as we’ve talked about CT scanners and MRI machines, we’ve gone over the use of radiation and magnets to image patients during these scans. However, nuclear medicine is definitely worth talking about, as it is one of the most important aspects of imaging, and could become a crucial part of your imaging facility in the future. So what exactly is nuclear imaging?

Nuclear medicine/imaging is a type of medical imaging that incorporates small amounts of radioactive materials in order to diagnose, as well as determine the severity of – cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, endocrine and neurological disorders, in addition to many other issues – all to discover information about problems within the body that cannot be determined through the use of x-rays or imaging done with magnets (MRI).

The first steps to a successful nuclear medicine scan is using the right equipment. A radioisotope (which is a radioactive material given to the patient in a small dose by either ingestion or injection, gone from their system within 12-24 hrs) is used, as well as a CT scanner, PET/CT scanner, or special nuclear imaging camera. The patient, once given the radioisotope, may have to wait several hours before the image is taken, depending on which part of his or her body is to be imaged. It is also possible that the image be taken instantly for the radioisotope to be detected; again, it all depends on the patient’s specific situation.

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The radioisotope, once inside the patient, congregates to cells and molecules in whichever location needs to be imaged, all the while giving off small doses of gamma rays, a form of radiation. The activity is then counted by the nuclear camera or imaging system, and is sent to a computer where it’s turned into images.

The types of nuclear equipment are: Scintillation cameras, also called Gamma cameras, SPECT imaging (single photon emission computed tomography;) and PET scanners (Positron Emission Tomography).

Nuclear imaging is often used when a patient has an issue or disorder that is difficult to identify by other means. Finding sites of infection, looking at gallbladder and thyroid function, finding a suspected bone fracture, looking at bone structure, heart flow, and function; detecting heart transplant rejection, scanning the lungs and brain for abnormalities, and discovering therapies for disorders such as hyperthyroidism, lymphoma, blood disorders, and tumor metastases to bones are all common uses for nuclear medicine.

I’m sure you still have plenty of questions regarding nuclear medicine and imaging, and that’s where our expert sales team comes in. Contact Amber today and get started on your refurbished imaging journey or simply have your inquiries addressed. We’re here to help.

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