There are several major reasons to have a Nuclear medicine examination, in fact, there are actually two different modalities under this term, namely, Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and Positron emission tomography (PET). The first advantage of having a Nuclear medicine examination is that you can get extremely detailed and valuable information on the function of your examined organ.
The second reason for having a nuclear medicine exam is to see if you are healthy enough to use certain treatments. Depending on the examination type, the molecules linked to a small amount of radioactive material will be injected, swallowed or inhaled as a gas.
This is eventually accumulated in the area of the body under examination. There is a special camera or imaging device that detects radioactive emissions from the radiotracer. The camera or device produces pictures and provides molecular information.
This type of test can also reveal any abnormalities or disease processes within the body, including
- Scan lungs for respiratory and blood flow problems
- Assess differential lung function for lung reduction or transplant surgery
- Detect lung transplant rejection
- Investigate abnormalities in the brain in patients with certain symptoms or disorders, such as seizures, memory loss and suspected abnormalities in blood flow
- Detect the early onset of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease
- Assist in surgical planning and identify the areas of the brain that may be causing seizures
- Evaluate for abnormalities in a chemical in the brain involved in controlling movement in patients with suspected Parkinson’s disease or related movement disorders
- Evaluation for suspected brain tumour recurrence, surgical or radiation planning or localization for biopsy
- Visualize heart blood flow and function (such as a myocardial perfusion scan)
- Detect coronary artery disease and the extent of coronary stenosis
- Assess damage to the heart following a heart attack
- Evaluate treatment options such as bypass heart surgery and angioplasty
- Evaluate the results of revascularization (blood flow restoration) procedures
- Detect heart transplant rejection
- Evaluate heart function before and after chemotherapy (MUGA)
Evaluate bones for fractures, infection and arthritis
Evaluate for metastatic bone disease
Evaluate painful prosthetic joints
Evaluate bone tumors
Identify sites for biopsy
General Body Examination
- Identify inflammation or abnormal function of the gallbladder
- Identify bleeding into the bowel
- Assess post-operative complications of gallbladder surgery
- Evaluate lymphedema
- Evaluate fever of unknown origin
- Locate the presence of infection
- Measure thyroid function to detect an overactive or underactive thyroid
- Help diagnose hyperthyroidism and blood cell disorders
- Evaluate for hyperparathyroidism (overactive parathyroid gland)
- Evaluate stomach emptying
- Evaluate spinal fluid flow and potential spinal fluid leaks Read: Nuclear Medicine Technologist Jobs and Employment
Nuclear medicine is also used for Adults and Children to examine the following
Stage cancer by determining the presence or spread of cancer in various parts of the body
Localize sentinel lymph nodes before surgery in patients with breast cancer or skin and soft tissue tumors
Evaluate response to therapy
Detect the recurrence of cancer
Detect rare tumors of the pancreas and adrenal glands
Analyze native and transplant kidney blood flow and function
Detect urinary tract obstruction
Evaluate for hypertension (high blood pressure) related to the kidney arteries
Evaluate kidneys for infection versus scar
Detect and follow-up urinary reflux
For general Children Health Examination
- Investigate abnormalities in the oesophagus, such as oesophagal reflux or motility disorders
- Evaluate the openness of tear ducts
- Evaluate the openness of ventricular shunts in the brain
- Assess congenital heart disease for shunts and pulmonary blood flow Also read: 20 Best nuclear medicine technologist jobs
Of course, with these things in mind, having a nuclear medicine exam does not mean that you will automatically be able to get a cure for your condition. While you can get a great deal of useful information about the function of your body by undergoing the procedure, you may find that most people do not always get the results they want.
The purpose of getting a nuclear medicine exam
It will help you to figure out if you may have some sort of condition or disease affecting your organs. By this, we do not mean that you are sick or have a terminal illness. We are referring to conditions where you may be suffering from.
To date, nuclear medicine exams are typically done on patients who have a Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or Computed tomography (CT) scan that shows a buildup of plaque inside their arteries. In many cases, the physician will order a series of blood tests in order to determine whether or not there is any heart disease or other serious health problem involved.
There are several risks to undergoing a nuclear medicine exam, but generally speaking, it does not require any treatment whatsoever. You may experience nausea, dizziness, vomiting, abdominal pain, chest pain in the back. Some patients even report seeing flashes of light or sounds in the ear. Through the nuclear medicine exam, the human body will be exposed to a radioactive substance.
However, most nuclear medicine exams are not successful and often don’t produce any results. In addition, there is no medication used in order to correct the effects of radiation, but instead, the examination focuses on providing the doctor with some knowledge on how the body functions when exposed to this substance. Read: 3,000+ Nuclear Medicine jobs in the United States
The procedure of having a nuclear medicine exam has some major advantages over traditional medicine
The first advantage is that there is no need to treat you and there is no medication needed. Once you undergo this exam, you are no longer treated and you will not be subjected to treatments that can be harmful.
The second advantage is that if you have a nuclear medicine exam, you may discover certain issues with your health that you have never been able to find, but you still could have. This exam can also reveal problems that you never knew existed.
Unfortunately, medical professionals are not very educated on how to deal with the health issues found after a nuclear medicine exam. Therefore, they often refer patients to specialists for treatment. There is no cure for the radiation that has been emitted.
However, there are treatments that have been developed to reduce the effects of this radiation that can be used by those who have the potential to get cancer as a result of having a nuclear medicine exam. Although having a nuclear medicine exam is relatively safe, there are some risks that can occur to the body during the exam. These risks can range from minor injuries to a very serious condition.
A common condition that can occur during this exam is that of cancer. If you experience a large amount of radiation, such as the ones that are emitted from the nuclear medicine machine, the likelihood that you will develop cancer is very high.
If you have a history of cancer, you may be referred to an oncologist for a consultation. You should go into this consultation prepared and with answers to any questions that may arise during this meeting so that you will know what to expect.
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