Nuclear medicine is a subspecialty within the field of radiology. Nuclear medicine exams provide both anatomic and physiologic (functional) information; the latter is one of the most important aspects of this subsecialty. The images are developed based on the detection of energy emitted from a low dose radioactive substance given to the patient, either intravenously or by mouth. Generally, the radiation dose to the patient is similar to that resulting from standard x-ray examinations.
Nuclear medicine images can assist the radiologist in diagnosing many types of diseases, including tumors, heart disease, infection, gallbladder disorders, fractures, arthritis, and many more. The most common exam is the bone scan. With high-resolution cameras and computers, PRC, in partnership with Sacred Heart, provides the full array of nuclear medicine exams currently available. Each camera is capable of SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging that provides cross sectional images similar in concept to CT scanning. SPECT scanning is used to provide greater sensitivity and improved anatomic localization in certain situations, particulary cardiac studies.
After dosing, the imaging may begin immediately, or be delayed a few hours later, or less commonly occur several days later. Actual time under the camera varies, generally ranging from 20 to 45 minutes. The radiopharmaceutical that is used is determined by what part of the body is under study, since some compounds collect in specific organs better than others. While the images are being obtained, you must remain as still as possible. This is especially true when a series of images are obtained to show how an organ functions over time.
PRC radiologists utilize the latest Nuclear Medicine cameras, most recently from Siemens.