Nuclear medicine

Fundamental Knowledge about Radiation and Nuclear Medicine


Nuclear medicineThe radiation that nuclear medicine makes use of is a type of energy that’s given off by some devices and materials. Everyday, we are exposed to what is called ‘background’ radiation. These include cosmic rays from space, radon gas in our houses, radioactivity in the earth and in our bodies.

We should stay safe by watching out for radiation symbols posted around us. Check below to know about radiation symbols.

Types of Radiation

Ionizing radiation

This type of radiation can cause specific changes in molecules. It can be found in x-rays, gamma rays and particles. Too much ionizing radiation may damage tissues.

Low-Energy radiation

This is also called non-ionizing radiation. They include microwaves, visible light and sound waves.

Measurement for Radiation

The internationally accepted unit of measurement for radiation amounts received by a patient is the ‘millisievert’ (mSv).

There is also the traditional unit called ‘millirem’ (mrem) which is used sometimes. 1 millisievert is equal to 100 mrem.

Radiation symbol

A radiation symbol is a warning sign that uses black or magenta on a yellow background. It can come with a text which clearly indicates a radiation warning or simply stand alone.

It’s compulsory for a radiation symbol or sign to be posted where radioactive materials or radiation-producing machines are located.

Safe amounts of radiation

According to some sources, it’s difficult to fully establish the exact safe amount of radiation. However, exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation can be detrimental to our health. A possible danger is cancer.

Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine is a unique type of medicine that makes use of safe and cheap techniques to image the body and administer treatment. In nuclear medicine, very small amounts of radioactive pharmaceuticals are used and their progress your body monitored .

It is unique because it shows how your body is working, unlike CT scans and x-rays which can only show how your body looks. This type of medium therapy makes use of radiation to treat diseases like cancer.

Side Effects of Nuclear Medicine

There are various side effects that are triggered mostly by wrong use or overuse of nuclear medicine and these depends on the type of radiation and the extent of exposure. As long as it is used according to prescription and for the right patient, there is minimal risk.

Check the Cancer Awareness Organizations for more details regarding Nuclear Medicine.

What Is Nuclear Medicine and How Does It Work?

Nuclear medicine is a valuable tool for the diagnosis of disease. Being non-invasive and cost-effective it can provide details of the functioning of an organ as well as the organ structure allowing for the diagnosis of certain medical conditions and diseases much earlier than other imaging techniques. It’s increasingly valuable for early detection, treatment, and prevention of a number of medical conditions including brain tumors and stroke evaluation, blood cell disorders, breast cancer, heart disease, kidney function, thyroid function, and much more.

How Nuclear Medicine Works

Nuclear medicineNuclear medicine works by introducing a low-level radioactive chemical, or radiotracer, into the body by intravenous injection, inhalation, or ingestion. The radiotracer is specially formulated to be temporarily accumulated in the specific organ or tissues to be examined. The radiotracer emits a gamma ray signal that is picked up and read by a gamma camera to result in an image that tells the story of the functioning of the organ. “Hot spots” show a larger accumulation of radiotracer showing increased activity. “Cold spots” can demonstrate reduced activity. Nuclear medicine can provide information that other imaging techniques will miss by examining tissues on a molecular level.

The level of radiation involved in a nuclear medicine procedure is typically much lower than the radiation received from a conventional X-ray making these procedures very safe. The procedures are painless beyond the discomfort of the intravenous injection when it is needed to introduce the radiotracer and there are very rarely any side effects experienced. Of all medical tests, nuclear medicine tests are among the last one needs to fear or dread if one is ordered by your doctor.

Students in nuclear medicine programs learn about the biological effects of exposure to radiation, computer applications, imaging techniques, physical sciences and more. You will likely need to pass a licensing exam upon graduation to legally work in this field, although this is not required in every state. Your degree or certificate must also come from an institution that is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education Programs. After fulfilling these requirements, nuclear medicine technologists typically earn between $48,720 and $67,460 annually, although this varies based on location, experience, and other factors.