Samples Medicine Essay On Nuclear Medicine

Essay On Nuclear Medicine

945 words 4 page(s)

Though there are many important and distinct areas of advanced imaging that enhance medical diagnostics and treatment such as mammography, sonography, ultrasound, and CT scans, nuclear medicine is one specialty area where many serious conditions or disease states can rapidly and accurately be determined and treatments for these disease states targeted for treatment. The use of nuclear medicine imaging allows the members of medical teams to target the most appropriate treatment to ensure best possible medical outcome for their patients. Nuclear medicine as a specific subspecialty of radiology allows the radiology technologists and physicians to obtain information that is not available via other radiological or non-radiological methods and procedures.

The advanced and scientifically-backed technology utilized in standardized nuclear medicine includes using “radioactive isotopes that can recognize different molecular targets in the body or seek out hallmarks of malignant and benign conditions” (Hacker, et al, p. 173). Specifically, this means that a patient can be injected intravenously with a small dose of a radioactive material, or a radiopharmaceutical. This radiopharmaceutical is sometimes given orally, but most often is placed in an IV line. There are specific radiopharmaceuticals used depending upon which organ system of other part of the body needs to be observed and studied. The radiopharmaceuticals are energized and emit gamma rays, and they collect in organs or other body parts. When radiologic imaging is then conducted, the radiopharmaceuticals show up distinctly and diagnoses and treatment plans can be made for the patient. This is how nuclear medicine can so accurately pinpoint the location of a disease process or area in need of targeting for treatment or biopsy.

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The radiopharmaceuticals, depending upon which type are injected or ingested, may show up within minutes, or they may take several days to travel to the appropriate place in the body. Once the medical team is ready to complete the imaging portion of the process, the patient lies on a table and is passed through a nuclear imaging camera. This portion of the process takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes and is similar to a CT scan. Information from the imaging is transferred to a computer where special software translates it into specific images of the body parts emitting the gamma energy.

Nuclear medicine is a safe procedure, and it limits the amount of radioactive material a patient is exposed to. “Nuclear medicine has been used for more than five decades, and there are no known long-term adverse effects from such low-dose studies” (“Nuclear Medicine”). In fact, the amount of radiation used in a standard nuclear medicine study is roughly the equivalent to that of a single radiograph. After a nuclear medicine imaging study, the radioactive elements pass through a patient’s system and are excreted through stool and urine within a matter of days.

Training and ongoing continuing education are crucial to a nuclear medicine technologist and the rest of the affiliated health care team. To keep abreast of the standards, advancements, and best practices of nuclear medicine, there are many professional associations that a nuclear medicine technologist and other members of the health care team could join and participate in. The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging has both United States based chapters as well as international chapters. In this organization, professionals can complete continuing education, attend conferences, network, fond jobs, and advocate for the quality of the field. Additionally, the American Board of Science in Nuclear Medicine focuses on graduate education in the field, evaluates the qualifications and preparedness of nuclear medicine technology candidates, and maintains the records for board certified professionals. The Society of Nuclear Medicine (NORD) provides information for clinicians and researchers in nuclear medicine and maintains a large database of information for patients and health care facilities as well. There are also specialty nuclear medicine organizations, such as the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, international, country-specific nuclear medicine organizations, and the American College of Nuclear medicine, all of which have solid information for the practice of effective and safe nuclear medicine imaging. Many of these organizations also offer scholarships to nuclear medicine technology students as well as job placement assistance.

Nuclear medicine is important to the health of many patients each year. It is a safe practice and is conducted within carefully monitored and controlled environments. This translates into the ability of the health care team to conduct specific diagnostic imaging such as positron emission topography, MRIs, and tomography scans. Used for both diagnostics and treatment for diseases such as hyperthyroidism, cancer, arthrosclerosis, revascularization, transplant acceptance or rejection, bone fractures, biopsies, brain malfunctions, inflammatory processes in a number of locations, intestinal disorders, and many others, nuclear medicine is solid medicine. It can help improve early detection of disease and target the exact areas needing treatment. Nuclear medicine does not come without its disadvantages, however, including the very high cost of equipment, the need for specialized training, health risks (although low), the need for special disposal of waste materials form the diagnostics and treatments, the fact that any radiation can cause genetic mutation, and the low risk of tissue damage or cell death.

In the broadest sense, though, the need for and use of nuclear medicine shows the benefits outweighing the risks, and this type of specialty radiology has benefits hundreds of thousands of patients over the past 50 years. Readily accepted as a best practice for the diagnosis and treatment of many ailments, nuclear medicine continues to evolve as a leader in radiologic imaging.

  • Hacker, M., Beyer, T., Baum, R., Kalemis, A., Lammertsma, A., Lewington, V., & … Verzijlbergen, F. (2015, February). Nuclear medicine innovations help (drive) healthcare (benefits). European Journal of Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging
  • Nuclear medicine. (2017). Med Line Health. Retrieved from