Quantum Radiology’s Nuclear Medicine imaging section uses small doses of radioactive material to diagnose and treat disease. Nuclear medicine uses intravenous injections of radioisotopes or tracers. Each of these tagged molecules emits a tiny amount of radiation, which is detected over time to create a series of images.
Diagnostic nuclear medicine can assess both organ structure and function allowing for earlier detection and diagnosis of diseases. For each type of test, a specific chemical compound is tagged with a radiotracer, giving each type of exam sensitivity and specificity for particular diseases.
Such scans are useful in:
During a nuclear medicine procedure, radiologists target these radioisotopes toward specific organs, bones or tissues to gather crucial information about a particular type of cancer, disease or other abnormalities within the body. Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam, the radioisotope may be injected into a vein, swallowed or inhaled as a gas. As it accumulates in the area of the body being examined, it gives off gamma rays. The radiologist employs a gamma camera, a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner or probe to measure the radiation and produce detail pictures of both the structure and function of your organs and tissues.
Images procured through nuclear imaging can be combined with those from computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to superimpose functional information and anatomy. This branch of imaging also includes single photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (SPECT-CT) and positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET-CT) scanners that are able to perform multiple imaging methods at the same time.
SPECT (Single-proton emission computerized tomography) describes a nuclear medicine test that allows Quantum radiologists and physicians to analyze the function of internal organs with greater accuracy and assurance. While imaging tests like X-rays can show what the structures inside your body look like, a SPECT scan produces three-dimensional images that actually show how your organs work, such as a heart pumping blood or brain activity.
Because it is a nuclear medicine test, a SPECT scan employs both a radioactive substance called a tracer and a special camera that detects the radioactivity and produces images. These scans add a new dimension to the physician’s ability to diagnose diseases earlier and without invasive surgery as well as manage treatment more effectively throughout the course of the illness.
SPECT can be essential in diagnosing brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and seizure; heart problems, such as blockages in the arteries of the heart, chest pain and heart attack; and cancer, including primary tumors or cancers that have spread to other parts of the body (metastasized). A patient’s prognosis improves greater with SPECT’s ability to pinpoint the disease before it can be detected by other, less-advanced imaging technologies.
Positron emission tomography (PET) describes an imaging test that uses a radioactive substance called a tracer to show the metabolism and the function of cells. Computed tomography (CT), meanwhile, uses X-ray technology to show changes in the physical size or structure of internal organs. PET/CT combines both of these diagnostic tools into a single procedure, giving physicians an enhanced ability to accurately diagnose and treat disease such as cancer.
Additionally, these scans add a new dimension to the physician’s ability to diagnose diseases earlier and without invasive surgery as well as manage treatment more effectively throughout the course of the illness. The test can also check brain function, heart issues and blood flow.
PET/CT can be vital in diagnosing and staging many types of cancer including lung, head/neck, esophageal, colorectal, melanoma, lymphoma and breast. Appropriate staging can greatly improve a patient’s prognosis by pinpointing disease before it can be detected by other, less-advanced imaging technologies. Such early and accurate detection is critical for planning appropriate therapy. PET-CT is also extremely useful for determining if a patient is responding to a particular treatment, helping physicians create an optimal treatment plan.
Radiation and patient safety are a priority with our team. Because nuclear medicine exams such as SPECT and PET/CT involve exposure to radiation, in the form of X-rays or radioactive material, concerns arise about the risks. Quantum radiologists always use the smallest possible dose of radiation necessary. Experts including our Quantum radiologists believe that the information gathered through a PET/CT scan outweigh the minimal risks of radiation exposure.