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Nuclear Medicine

Disease Diagnosis in Piatt County

Though you may have some apprehension when you hear the name, nuclear medicine is very safe. Nuclear medicine can show doctors how your body is functioning. It is also useful with early detection and discovery of changes occurring in your body. Nuclear medicine can help formulate a treatment plan or avoid invasive procedures.

In nuclear medicine imaging, you are administered a small dose of a radioactive isotope called a tracer. This is either injected through a vein or swallowed in pill form. The isotope produces emissions, which are detected by a gamma camera. This camera produces images that the radiologist will read. Exam length varies depending on the type of exam performed. The results provide doctors with important diagnostic information.

Why It's Done

Some conditions manifest so deeply in the body that even powerful imaging devices like MRIs cannot capture them. Other conditions require very clear images of how parts of the body are moving that imaging tech is incapable of showing. Before nuclear medicine, exploratory surgery was the only way to examine these aspects of the body.

With nuclear medicine, doctors can view:

  • Abnormal lesions deep in the body
  • Blood flow to the heart and brain
  • How the kidneys are functioning
  • Bone fractures too small to be seen on x-rays
  • How cancer is responding to treatment
  • The heart’s condition after a heart attack
  • Tumors, diseases, and infections

In addition to its diagnostic purposes, nuclear medicine can also be used as treatment. Annual administration of radioactive iodine is often used to treat hyperthyroidism. Doctors have also found that several forms of cancer can be fought with nuclear medicine, and may even alleviate some of the more painful symptoms.

Safety Concerns

Nuclear medicine is extraordinarily safe. The amount of radiation given is comparable to a routine x-ray. The radiation dose given stays in the body for a short time period and is quickly eliminated with fluid intake following the exam. If a doctor recommends a nuclear medicine test, it means they need to rule out the possibility of a serious health condition. In most cases, the only other way to do this is with surgery, which comes with much more risk than nuclear medicine.

If you have questions about nuclear medicine, please call 217-762-1826. Our knowledgeable team is happy to address your concerns.