Medicine continues to advance in various fields related to human health. This is why, as techniques for analyzing the body and its diseases continue to improve, areas have developed where trained personnel can use these tools.
One of these is nuclear medicine, and although this field is not new, it has undergone rapid transformation and health professionals dedicated to this field are in high demand.
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When talking about nuclear medicine, refers to the medical specialty used radioactive elements, Whether administered orally, intravenously or in other small doses, it is possible to study the behavior of organs, since these substances have the advantage of behaving in the body according to the different metabolic processes that are constantly going on to perform their functions.
Once the substance enters the body, it is placed under a special device called a gamma camera, which controls and records the operation, processing it in a high-speed and high-resolution computer that makes it possible to measure these organic processes.
in the field of nuclear medicinea radioactive tracer is administered to the patient and accumulates in the cells or tissues you want to study. According to the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), radioactive tracers emit radiation that can be detected by special cameras to create images of organs or tissues.
Currently, studies are conducted in the brain, different glands (such as the thyroid or salivary glands), bones, heart, liver, veins, lungs and many other organs, depending on the substance used.
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For example, in the case of tumors, it is this branch of medicine that allows us to analyze information about a mass and determine what steps should be taken.
Another activity of the Nuclear Medicine Service is the radiotherapy of certain diseases that respond to this type of therapy, Examples include inflammatory joint disease and some surgeries for pain caused by bone metastases or thyroid cancer.
As described by the Mayo Clinic, nuclear medicine can accurately diagnose diseases in their early stages before symptoms appear because it provides precise images of the body’s organs and tissues.
Additionally, most nuclear medicine procedures are minimally invasive, meaning they do not require surgery.
Diseases Treated by Nuclear Medicine
According to the Barcelona Clinic, there is a wide variety of diseases that can be identified and treated with nuclear medicine. Here we tell you which ones are the most common.
– cancer: Nuclear medicine can be used to diagnose, evaluate and treat cancer. In diagnosis, radioactive tracers are used to detect tumors that are too small to be seen with other imaging methods. In treatment, radioactive tracers are used to destroy cancer cells.
– Heart disease: Radioactive tracers are used to measure blood flow in the heart and detect the presence of blockages, thereby diagnosing problems such as coronary heart disease.
– Brain diseases: Because radioactive tracers can analyze brain function and lesions, diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s can be detected.
– Thyroid disease: Nuclear medicine can be used to diagnose and treat thyroid disorders such as Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Radioactive tracers are used to measure thyroid activity and destroy overactive thyroid tissue.
– Gastrointestinal disorders: Gastroesophageal reflux can be treated and identified by measuring the function of the gastrointestinal tract.
– Kidney disease: Nuclear medicine can be used to diagnose and evaluate kidney diseases, such as chronic kidney disease and urinary tract infections.
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Some people distrust or fear these procedures because of the radiation used. However, the total radiation dose given to the patient in these cases is no greater than that during a routine chest X-ray or CT examination.
“There are legitimate concerns about the potential induction of cancer from even low-level radiation exposure through the accumulation of medical imaging tests, but it is generally accepted that this risk is outweighed by the expected benefits of medically necessary diagnostic studies Quite small. Imaging,” NIBIB said.
Like radiologists, nuclear medicine physicians work to reduce their patients’ radiation exposure as much as possible.
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