Nuclear medicine is a form of medical imaging that uses radiology and radiography to diagnose and treat various illnesses and diseases. These medical imaging procedures require the use of a radioactive substance, or tracer, to convey information to doctors about the function of the organs, tissues, and bones. If your doctor has recommended that you undergo a PET scan or other diagnostic procedure that utilizes nuclear medicine in San Antonio , keep reading for some helpful information.
What Are the Benefits of Nuclear Medicine?
Medical imaging that uses nuclear medicine provides unique information to doctors that is often not available using other forms of medical imaging. This includes details about the function and structure of the body. Nuclear medicine is relatively low-cost, highly precise, and is much less invasive and risky than exploratory surgery. Nuclear medicine medical imaging can help doctors diagnose and treat illnesses and diseases much more quickly, often before symptoms even appear.
How Is Nuclear Medicine Commonly Used?
Doctors, radiologists, and medical imaging specialists use nuclear medicine to gain information and insight about the structure and function of the body’s organs, bones, and tissues. Among many other things, it can be used to detect cancer, determine the malignancy of a tumor, detect illnesses, detect disease, investigate abnormalities, and identify inflammation or infection. Your doctor may recommend a PET scan or nuclear medicine medical imaging of your heart, lungs, bones, brain, or other systems for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.
What Equipment Is Used?
Nuclear medicine utilizes special cameras and medical imaging devices. It requires the use of a PET scanner, or positron emission tomography scanner. A PET scanner looks similar to an MRI scanner or CT scanner, and it records the signals from the tracer. It also requires the use of a gamma camera, and a single-photon emission-computed tomography, or SPECT. These cameras detect radioactive energy from the tracer and convert the data into an image. A computer displays 3-D images, allowing them to be interpreted by a doctor, radiologist, or medical imaging specialist.
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI , is a type of medical imaging exam. As the name implies, an MRI of the head produces images of the brain. This allows healthcare providers to evaluate symptoms and diagnose medical conditions. An MRI scan is unlike many other types of imaging exams in that it does not involve the use of radiation. When patients undergo an MRI scan in San Antonio, medical images are produced through the use of a powerful magnetic field and pulses of radio waves.
Physicians may request an MRI brain scan for many different reasons. These scans are helpful for evaluating symptoms such as hearing loss, speech impairment, vision loss, and unusual changes in behavior or cognition. An MRI can help doctors diagnose patients with a brain injury, such as subarachnoid or intracranial hemorrhage. Brain infections, stroke, brain tumors, and multiple sclerosis are other conditions that can be diagnosed with the help of an MRI. Additionally, a doctor might request an MRI if a patient is suspected of having a congenital brain defect or a hormonal disorder, such as Cushing syndrome, acromegaly, or galactorrhea.
Patients may be asked to restrict food and liquid consumption for four to six hours prior to their appointment. It’s advisable to wear comfortable clothes that may be changed easily if necessary. The radiology technologist will ask the patient to remove any metallic objects, such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, and jewelry, and to disclose whether he or she has brain aneurysm clips, kidney disease, and other medical issues.
Sometimes, the technologist will inject contrast dye before performing the scan. Then, the patient lies on a special table, which is inserted into the MRI machine. The technologist goes into an adjacent room, where he or she can monitor the patient. Typically, the entire procedure takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
An MRI is a very safe diagnostic test. There is zero risk from radiation exposure, since the test does not use any radiation. The magnetic field and radio waves do not cause any side effects. Rarely, a patient may experience an allergic reaction to the contrast dye. Additionally, an MRI with contrast dye may not be safe for patients with kidney disease who are on dialysis. The magnetic field can adversely affect the function of pacemakers and other implants.
The increasingly prevalent usage of 3D mammography , formally know as Tomosynthesis, is good news for women. By undergoing 3D mammography near San Antonio, as opposed to 2D mammography, women have a better chance of benefiting from the early detection and treatment of breast cancer. This digital X-ray technology creates a complete model of the breast by dividing it into “slices,” which enables radiology technologists to thoroughly examine the breast tissue.
When healthcare providers detect breast cancer in its early stages with the help of 3D mammography, the prognosis is generally more favorable. Women with early stage breast cancer may undergo less invasive treatment with tissue-sparing surgery, such as a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy. In addition, 3D mammograms are particularly ideal for women with dense breast tissue, since abnormalities may be more difficult to detect when these women undergo 2D mammograms. Another advantage of 3D mammography is that it may reduce the risk of false-positive results, which subsequently reduces unnecessary call-backs,additional tests and potentially biopsies.
A physician might recommend that you undergo a positron emission tomography (PET) scan if he or she suspects that you may have certain medical conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, or a brain disorder like Alzheimer’s disease. A PET scan is a nuclear medicine exam, which means that it uses a radiopharmaceutical to allow healthcare providers to examine the metabolism of organs and tissues. If you’ve been asked to undergo a PET scan near San Antonio, you may have some concerns about potential health risks. However, you can rest assured that PET scans have an excellent safety record.
Radiopharmaceuticals are drugs that are radioactive. Some patients may be alarmed at the idea of introducing a radioactive substance into the body. However, the use of radiopharmaceuticals is not unusual and is very safe. Most often, a radiology technologist performing a PET scan will use fluoro deoxyglucose (FDG). This is a form of glucose, or sugar, which is radioactive. The healthcare provider injects a very small amount of this glucose into the patient’s bloodstream. Tissues absorb glucose at different rates. For example, active tumors absorb glucose more quickly than other tissues. This allows physicians to readily identify tumors.
Exploring Radiation Exposure
Although FDG is a radioactive substance, it poses little risk to your health. Its half-life is about 110 minutes, which means that it breaks down very quickly. Additionally, since it is expelled by the kidneys, it leaves the body fairly rapidly. The radiation exposure from a PET scan iis similar to receiving a few CAT scans. . While patients should not undergo PET scans without good reason, the radiation dose is minimized and felt to be worthwhile compared to the potential benefits of the exam. Americans receive radiation from normal activities of daily life, so radiation is a part of our lives even if we don’t realize it.
Identifying Special Health Concerns
To date, there are no known side effects of undergoing PET scans. The only discomfort you may experience is a slight pinprick when the radiopharmaceutical is injected. However, some people may have special health concerns, such as diabetics. Undergoing a PET scan may require fasting prior to the exam. If you have diabetes, inform the radiology technologist ahead of your appointment. Additionally, you should always inform the technologist if you are pregnant, there is a chance that you could be pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding.
- CT Scan
- Concord Imaging Review
- DEXA Scan
- PET Scan
- Nuclear Medicine
- 3D Mammogram
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Imaging Costs
- Healthcare Cost
- Concord Imaging
- Imaging center
- Joint Injections
- Medical Imaging
- chronic lung conditions
- Diagnostic Imaging
- Nuclear Medical Testing
- Radiology center