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Nuclear Medicine and Your Health

Feb 16, 2021
Nuclear Medicine and Your Health
From our five fellowship-trained nuclear medicine radiologists

Discover what you need to know about nuclear medicine when it comes to your health care.

Here at Radiology Imaging Associates, we have five fellowship-trained nuclear medicine radiologists. These physicians use nuclear medicine imaging procedures to visualize the structure and function of an organ, tissue, bone or system within the body.

During a nuclear medicine imaging study, small amounts of radioactive materials (called radiopharmaceuticals or radiotracers) are either injected into the bloodstream, inhaled or swallowed. The radioactive materials travel through the area being examined and give off gamma-ray energy, which is detected by a special camera and a computer to create images of the inside of your body. Nuclear medicine imaging provides unique information that often cannot be obtained using other imaging options.

Nuclear medicine can be used as a diagnostic tool in several situations, including many types of cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine or neurological disorders and other abnormalities. Because nuclear medicine exams can pinpoint molecular activity, they have the potential to identify disease in its earliest stages. Another way that nuclear medicine is commonly used is to see if a treatment option is working.

Here are some examples of commonly ordered nuclear medicine studies and how they are used to better diagnose many health care issues:

Bone or Joint Scan: The reason for this test is to find out if there are any abnormal areas within the bones or joints.

Gallium Scan: The reason for this test is to detect an infection or tumor.

Gastric Emptying: This test is to evaluate the function of the stomach and its ability to empty solids and liquids.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Study: The reason for this test is to find out if liquid material moves in a reverse direction from the stomach to the esophagus, also known as reflux.

Hepatobiliary Scan: The reason for this test is to evaluate gallbladder function and to assess the bile ducts.

Liver or Spleen Scan: The reason for this test is to find out the size and function of the liver and spleen.

MUGA Scan: This test evaluates the function of the heart and is often done on patients who will be receiving chemotherapy.

PET Scan: Your provider may order a PET scan to inspect blood flow, oxygen intake, or the metabolism of your organs and tissues. It is commonly used to diagnose cancer or heart disease.

Renal Scan: The reason for this test is to assess the blood flow, as well as the level of function of the kidneys.

Thyroid Scan and Uptake: This examination determines how well the thyroid gland is functioning by measuring the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland.

Photo: Doctors are in alphabetical order – Keith Dangleis, MD, Woody Hopper, MD, Bobby Kang, MD, Joe Tan, MD, Sam Wang, MD