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Nuclear medicine is a form of medical imaging that uses the nuclear properties of matter to indicate to a patient’s physician how their organs, bones or glands are functioning, as opposed to other forms of imaging that indicate how the organs, bones, muscles or glands appear.
Nuclear medicine imaging tests focus on the process of a certain part of the body rather than its size, shape or other physical appearance. By exploiting the way a patient’s body handles a substance—that is either injected or consumed—nuclear medicine technologists can determine if there is a disease or pathology present. For instance, a patient undergoing a renal study would be injected with a substance with which the kidney(s) would fill, and then receive a follow-up injection stimulating them to drain, allowing nuclear medicine technologists to monitor how well the organ is actually working. This differs from a static image such as an x-ray or MRI which would show the shape and size but not the process of the organ.
During a diagnostic test, the substance that is injected or consumed travels through to the specific area being tested, and then either binds to or repels a naturally occurring chemical or complex, which technologists can then trace via imaging.
Memorial’s nuclear medicine department is located at the main campus and is often used to diagnose cancer, stress fractures, infections, arthritis and many other diseases that produce a change in function or process.
Some of the tests provided on-site at Memorial include: