Your Radiologist Explains Nuclear Medicine
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Hello! I’m Dr. Ramji Rajendran, a radiation oncologist at the Cancer Institute at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. I’d like to talk to you about nuclear medicine.
Nuclear medicine offers the potential to identify disease in its earliest stage, often before symptoms occur or before abnormalities can be detected with other diagnostic tests.
Nuclear medicine imaging procedures use small amounts of radioactive materials – called radiotracers – that are typically injected into the bloodstream, inhaled or swallowed. The radiotracer travels through the area being examined and gives off energy in the form of gamma rays which are detected by a special camera and computer to create images of the inside of your body.
If you’re scheduled for a nuclear medicine exam, there are several things you can do to prepare.
First, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything and to refrain from taking certain medications before the exam. Also, it’s best to leave any jewelry at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown as well.
Tell your doctor if there is any possibility you are pregnant and about any recent illnesses or other medical conditions, medications you’re taking, and whether you have any allergies.
You may have some concerns about nuclear medicine. However, because the amount of radiotracer used is small, the level of radiation exposure is relatively low and the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs any risk.
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Thank you for your time!