Nuclear Medicine is a diagnostic tool in which images are created using a special camera that images organs and tissues in the body, after administration of a radioactive “tracer” (radionuclide or radioisotope) to make them visible.
A very small amount of radioactive “tracer”, specific for the organ or tissue to be scanned, is injected into a vein by a Nuclear Medicine Technologist. Images may be taken during the injection, immediately after the injection, or a delayed period after the injection to allow the tracer to distribute to the organ or tissue of interest. The gamma rays emitted by the tracer are detected by a special camera that is positioned near the organ or part of the body being imaged.
The gamma camera transfers information to a computer that forms an image. The amount of radiation from a nuclear medicine procedure is comparable to that received during a routine x-ray. The tracer only remains in the body for a short period of time before being eliminated in the urine or stool within 24 hours. Nuclear Medicine is commonly used to measure or detect hyperthyroidism (Grave’s Disease), heart function, orthopedic injuries, blood clots in the lungs, and liver and gall bladder functions.