Nuclear medicine is a subspecialty within the field of radiology. It comprises diagnostic examinations that result in images of body anatomy and function. The images are developed based on the detection of energy emitted from a radioactive substance given to the patient. In the health care setting, this energy may be used to visualize internal structures of the body, diagnose disease and treat certain diseases. Generally, radiation to the patient is similar to that resulting from standard x-ray examinations.
Radiopharmaceuticals are radioactive substances administered intravenously, by mouth or through inhalation to patients. Once in the organ, the radionuclide emits high-energy gamma particles. As these particles exit the patient’s body, they are detected by a gamma camera. The detected energy is analyzed by a computer.