Treatments and Procedures
There are numerous types of nuclear scan but all of them follow the same principle. Depending on the type of scan, the appropriate radiopharmaceutical is chosen. It is then administered orally, intravenously or inhaled depending on the protocol. These tracers enter the body and accumulate in the region of interest. The patient is often laid on a table under radioactivity detection cameras which generates the image. The image is then reviewed by the specialist. The most widely used types of nuclear scans are as follows:
- Bone scan: used to detect bone tumours, diseases, fractures and inflammation
- Breast scan: used to detect cancer tissues in the breasts
- Brain scan: used to detect brain and neurodegenerative diseases
- Heart scan: used to detect heart-related illnesses and functional disruptions
- Renal scan: used to detect obstructions in the kidney and related illnesses
- Thyroid scan: used to detect nodules or other growth on the thyroid gland
- Gallium scan: used to detect infectious diseases
What do the scans involve?
All the scans require a drug tracer that contains radioactive isotopes and equipment to generate images by detecting the waves emitted by the tracer. The nuclear imaging equipment that is often used during diagnosis is SPECT. SPECT is an acronym for Single-photon emission computed tomography and is capable of generating 3-D images of the analysed region. The gamma rays emitted by the tracer are analysed by the computer and the cross-sections are compiled to create the final image. SPECT is the most advanced nuclear scanning equipment available. It is the updated version of PET or Positron Emission Tomography. PET possesses similar capabilities as SPECT. It cannot, however, generate 3-D images.
There is minimal risk involved in the whole process as radiopharmaceutical contains only a small dose of the radioactive isotope. Therefore, the risk of radiation exposure can be ignored. The diagnostic procedure and assessment protocols for nuclear medicine have been in place for over 50 years and no adverse effects have been observed in the long term. Slight discomforts due to the tracer have been observed but allergic reactions are rarely reported. The case for concern occurs in pregnant and lactating women. The technician or physician must be informed of the same. This is because the radiation could harm the fetus and the breast milk might get contaminated by the radiopharmaceuticals.
Patients might be asked to follow certain instructions in order to prepare for the exam. These include fasting, refraining from smoking and notifying the technician of any allergies or existing medication.
Advancements in Nuclear Medicine
The scope of nuclear medicine extends beyond that of diagnosis and therapy. It is also an integral part of medical research. Nuclear medicine plays a key role in drug development as it helps researchers understand the pharmacology and metabolism of novel drugs. Moreover, the up-gradation of imaging technology with the integration of artificial intelligence opens new avenues for nuclear medicine. This includes equipment capable of delivering higher resolution images which enhances early detection of diseases.
Another step in nuclear medicine is the concept of personalized healthcare. This involves a preventive strategy rather than therapy using the techniques of nuclear medicine. The idea is to predict the advent of disease and estimate when it will begin to be symptomatic. Imaging technology plays a pivotal role in detecting changes in the tissue and can serve as warning signs to an impending disorder. This can help to chart a treatment strategy to mitigate the effects of the disease and improve quality of life.
At Dr. Rela Hospital, we know that timely diagnosis and treatment is always key in saving lives. We have nothing less than the best treatment to offer to our patients.