Diagnostic Medicine: Radioisotope

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In the world of diagnostic medicine, there is one technology that is quite different than the other radiology modalities and that technology is nuclear medicine. Nuclear medicine is very unique, because it helps doctors view how your body is functioning. This type of imaging takes small amounts of radioactive tracers and follows their path through your body. X-rays, CAT scans, and for the most part MRI and ultrasonography, can show how something in your body looks, but Nuclear Medicine can show how your body actually functions.
These radiopharmaceutical tracers are made up of carrier molecules that are bonded to a radioactive atom. These carrier molecules vary greatly depending on the purpose of the scan. Some tracers employ molecules that
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The most used radioisotope in medicine is technetium-99m, employed in some 80% of all nuclear medicine procedures. It is an isotope of the artificially-produced element technetium and it has ideal characteristics for a nuclear medicine scan. It has a half-life of six hours which is long enough to examine metabolic processes but short enough to minimize the radiation dose. It decays by isomericly which emits gamma rays and low energy electrons. The low energy gamma rays it emits easily escape the human body and are accurately detected by a gamma camera. The chemistry of technetium is so versatile it can form tracers by being incorporated into a range of biologically-active substances to ensure that it concentrates in the tissue or organ of…show more content…
The radiotracer is injected intravenously and is distributed by blood throughout the body. It diffuses into the extravascular and extracellular spaces and binds to the bone crystal. It takes about 2 to 5 hours for the tracer to bind to your bone so that pictures can be taken with a SPECT camera. During this time, patients drink a lot of water and urinate frequently to increase soft-tissue elimination of the radiotracer. This elimination from soft-tissue improves visualization of the bone. Clinical indications for nuclear medicine bone scans are: to detect bone metastatic cancers, to determine if fracture is present, to further evaluate abnormalities found on plain film x-rays, evaluate delayed healing of fractures, and several other indications as
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