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Nuclear medicine: what are the uses of nuclear energy in medicine?

Nuclear medicine: what are the uses of nuclear energy in medicine?

Nuclear medicine is therapy used to treat serious diseases, such as cancer. It is an accurate and effective tool for diagnosing and treating various diseases. The clinical uses of radiopharmaceuticals cover most of the medical specialties.

In this article we will explain what nuclear energy consists of, what it is used for. In addition, we list some examples of techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that use radioactive materials.

What is nuclear medicine?

Nuclear medicine is a specialty of medicine that focuses on the use of radiation to diagnose and treat disease. It is based on the use of radioactive materials and radioisotopes, which emit ionizing radiation, to examine the body and/or treat diseases.

It can be used to detect diseases in their early stages, allowing doctors to obtain images to diagnose certain diseases. This technology can be used to see inside the human body and obtain detailed images of internal organs.

What is nuclear medicine used for?

Nuclear medicine can be used to prevent, diagnose, and treat a wide variety of diseases. Nuclear medicine also includes a branch that deals with research.

Its field of action includes the following aspects:

  • Prevention: In this aspect, nuclear medicine applies the knowledge and techniques that are specific to hygiene, prophylactic and preventive medicine, and radiological protection.

  • Research: Nuclear medicine is developed in basic and applied research, using radioactive isotopes and related biophysical techniques.

  • Diagnosis: Includes functional, morphological, dynamic, morphofunctional and analytical tests, based on biochemical, physiological and pathophysiological principles, aimed at achieving a better knowledge and understanding of the structure and function of the human body in a state of health or disease.

  • Therapeutics: In addition to the important impact that the diagnostic techniques of nuclear medicine have on the treatment and management of patients. This specialty includes the elimination of cancer cells by administering radiopharmaceuticals to patients. This branch of medicine also includes the treatment and prevention of biological effects due to exposure to a source of ionizing radiation.

Nuclear medicine: examples

Some examples of nuclear medicine procedures that offer the possibility of identifying diseases are the following:

Computed Tomography (CT)

Computed tomography (CT) is a diagnostic test that uses X-rays to produce detailed images of organs, tissues, and structures within the body. During the test, the patient must lie still while a computer assembles the images from successive slices of the patient to make a three-dimensional image.

Positron emission tomography

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a medical diagnostic technique that uses gamma radiation to obtain highly detailed 3D images of internal body tissues. These images allow doctors to see changes in metabolism and cell function within the body.

Bone scans

A bone scan is a diagnostic imaging test used to detect bone abnormalities.

It is done by introducing a small amount of a radioactive substance into the bloodstream, which is fixed in the bone and then examined using a specialized camera.

Single photon emission tomography: SPECT and SPECT-CT

Single photon emission tomography (SPECT) is a medical imaging technique that uses a radioactive source to generate detailed images of internal organs.

SPECT-CT (single photon emission computed tomography) combines SPECT images with CT information to create 3D images.

SPECT-CT can be used for the diagnosis or monitoring of various conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication Date: June 11, 2010
Last Revision: March 11, 2023