Nuclear Medicine – What is it and How Safe is it?

Nuclear medicine imaging makes use of small amounts of radiotracers. These are radioactive materials that are injected into the bloodstream, swallowed or inhaled. These radiotracers travel through the area that is under examination. Energy is given off in the form of gamma rays inside the body that are detected, traced, and examined using a special camera. A computer is then used to create images of the organ inside your body.

Nuclear medicine imaging offers a unique way of obtaining information that cannot be obtained by any other imaging procedures. It offers physicians a potential to identify different sorts of diseases in their early stages, which help the patients in their treatment and cure. It also helps in understanding the immediate response of a patient to a therapeutic intervention which can be changed in case the patient is not responding to it as expected.


Nuclear medicine imaging processes are non-invasive and painless medical procedures that are used to not only diagnose but also evaluate the medical conditions a person is going through. The imaging scans make use of radiotracers or radiopharmaceuticals to carry out the imaging procedure. These radioactive materials accumulate in the specific part of the body that is under examination. As a result, the physicians are able to get clear images of what is happening inside the body. The process of nuclear medicine imaging is superimposed in some centres using magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography. This produces special views which are called co-registration or image fusion. This allows correlation and interpretation of two different exams on a single image. This allows for more precise and accurate information and the diagnosis following it.

Is it Safe?

Many people are wary of the fact that the use of nuclear medicine is not entirely safe. Here are some things that you should know before undergoing a nuclear medicine exam.

  • The doses of radiotracers used in a nuclear medicine imaging procedure are very small. Thus, the patient is exposed to very little risk as the radiation exposure to the patient is too low.
  • These nuclear medicine imaging techniques have been used in the medical industry for over five decades now. In addition, there have been no long term or severe side effects of performing these procedures with such a little amount of radioactive material used.
  • There are usually no allergic reactions to nuclear medicine imaging procedures. Some people might have an allergic reaction but it is highly rare, not too harsh and usually very mild. It is better to share your allergies with the concerned person before the test is performed on you.
  • It is important to tell the physician if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • The radiotracer is injected into the body of the patient through a syringe. This might cause little redness but it resolved rapidly.

While the benefits of nuclear medicine imaging outweigh its risks, it is better to ask your physician any questions before the procedure begins. In addition, it is also important to get the procedure done only from experts like

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