What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine uses very small, safe amounts of radioactive materials, or tracers, to help diagnose and treat a variety of diseases. Depending on the type of exam, patients either swallow the tracer, or it is injected into your body. There it emits energy in the form of gamma rays. A special gamma camera scans the patient, detecting the rays and producing computer images of organs and tissues.
There are nearly 100 different types of nuclear imaging procedures, including PET scans, bone scans, and heart scans. Yet these scans differ from other imaging procedures, which focus on structural appearance. Nuclear imaging scans show how an organ, tissue, or bone functions. As a result, nuclear imaging often can identify potential problems long before they can be other imaging methods detect an issue.