Thanks to medical imaging, today doctors can see inside the body using tests such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Sometimes, however, doctors need more data than these tests provide alone. That is when we may use nuclear medicine tests.
Nuclear medicine is used to give doctors detailed pictures of certain activities going on in the body. With nuclear medicine tests we can see how organs or body systems are working.
The name “nuclear medicine” refers to a radioisotope, a small amount of radioactive material, which is combined with medicine (pharmaceutical) to produce a radiopharmaceutical – we also call these tracers. We use different types of tracers for each exam depending on what we need to see.
Tracers are used in combination with a special camera to see the structures inside your child’s body and how they function. The special cameras are called gamma cameras. They do not produce any radiation and do not pose any risk to your child.
The tracer is designed to travel to a particular organ or area of the body. Our gamma cameras can detect it and capture the images. Each radiopharmaceutical is carefully tested assuring there are no side-effects. The amount of radiopharmaceutical is carefully dictated by the nuclear medicine physician for safety.
FACT: The exposure to most radiopharmaceuticals in nuclear medicine is less radiation than you get from a day at the beach.
There are many different types of nuclear medicine tests. Your doctor or nurse will provide you with specific information related to the test your child will receive.