Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive substances to evaluate organs, bones, or tissues. Unlike X-rays, where external radiation is used, in nuclear medicine the patient takes radiopharmaceuticals internally. There are several types of nuclear medicine diagnostic techniques.
- Scintigraphy creates 2D images to evaluate areas such as bone, myocardial perfusion, and parathyroid.
- SPECT is a 3D technique that helps doctors evaluate functional processes of the body.
- Other techniques superimpose nuclear medicine scans onto CT images, for example.
Nuclear medicine shows the physiological function of the system being evaluated, rather than traditional anatomical images.