The advancements in biomedical engineering and biotechnology have led to breakthroughs in the treatment of various ailments and conditions. This has led to reduced fatalities as well as improvements in the quality of life for patients. Some of the effective medical technologies include 3-D printing, robotic surgery, artificial organs, immunotherapy, and nuclear medicine. Although it is a relatively new practice, nuclear medicine has been successful in treating complex diseases such as those involving the brain, heart, bones, kidneys, and tumors.
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Nuclear medicine applies radiology by using radioactive substances in small amounts. These substances are referred to as radiopharmaceuticals. The various types of such radiations include Alpha, Beta, X-ray, and Gamma. Gamma radiation is mostly applied when it comes to nuclear medicine (Ozsahin, Uzun, Musa, Şentürk, Nurçin, & Ozsahin, 2017). Various radiopharmaceuticals have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These include radioisotopes such as Fluorine-18 (F-18) or Gallium-68. They are attached to molecules such as glucose to form Fludeoxyglucose or Octreotide. The attachment to glucose facilitates glucose metabolic imaging. These radioactive substances also referred to as radiotracers, are attracted to a certain part of the body (Ozsahin et al., 2017). They emit Gamma rays which are then captured by special Gamma cameras to form an image.
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One of the ways of preparing patients for the nuclear medicine procedure is by offering adequate information about the technology. Since it is a non-invasive procedure, little preparation is needed. Once the patient is well informed of the facts related to nuclear medicine, the doctor is keen to note if the patient is pregnant. Other information needed includes whether there are any known allergies and a list of current medications that the patient might be taking. Furthermore, jewelry and other metallic objects should be removed (Elgazzar, 2017). A hospital gown may also be necessary in some cases.
Many benefits are attributed to nuclear medicine. A major advantage is the level of precision it offers. After the deployment of the radiotracers, their exact destination and area of activity can be observed. This is useful in identifying cancer cells hence early diagnosis. In addition to precision, this technology offers detailed information without having to perform invasive-procedures (Love & Palestro, 2016). This guarantees more safety for the patients. Nuclear medicine is, however, faced with a few challenges. Some of these include the relatively high cost of the equipment and the health risks that may result from overexposure to radiation.
Nuclear imaging assists in the diagnosis and treatment of various ailments. This is achieved through enhancing the visualization of the structure and functionality of different body parts such as the brain, lungs, heart, bones, liver, and so many more. Thus, according to Herrman et al. (2015), illnesses such as Cancer, kidney failures, respiratory problems, coronary artery disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and so many more can be diagnosed earlier before they get worse.
A major application of Nuclear medicine is the Positron Emission tomography (PET scan). It is a scan used to show body activity at a cellular level. The scan involves giving the patient a radiotracer (commonly Fludeoxyglucose (18F)). Since cells require glucose for metabolism, the radiotracer will accumulate more around cells which require larger amounts of glucose (Tarkin et al., 2017). This activity is displayed in an image where the doctor can observe and make a diagnosis or treatment. PET scans are applied in three major areas including cancer, neurology, and cardiology. It is well-understood that cancer cells consume a large amount of glucose. Hence, if the glucose-containing radiotracer is observed to be accumulating at a certain area, then this can be a possible diagnosis for Cancer. In neurology, PET scans observe the uptake of glucose by brain cells. The slow uptake of glucose by some cells helps in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, in cardiology, A PET scan observes the movement of the radiotracer in the heart, to identify any circulatory problems or damages to the heart (Tarkin et al., 2017). This information then facilitates treatment.
Nuclear medicine is successful in treating many complex ailments. It has simplified the treatment of complicated illnesses by providing a safer and precise alternative. Hence, nuclear medicine continues to save lives by facilitating the early diagnosis of fatal ailments such as cancer and heart diseases. Through Nuclear medicine, there is hope for a healthier community and a better quality of life.
Elgazzar, A. H. (2017). Orthopedic nuclear medicine. Springer.
Herrmann, K., Bluemel, C., Weineisen, M., Schottelius, M., Wester, H. J., Czernin, J., … & Krebs, M. (2015). Biodistribution and radiation dosimetry for a probe targeting prostate-specific membrane antigen for imaging and therapy. Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 56(6), 855-861.
Love, C., & Palestro, C. J. (2016). Nuclear medicine imaging of bone infections. Clinical radiology, 71(7), 632-646.
Ozsahin, D. U., Uzun, B., Musa, M. S., Şentürk, N., Nurçin, F. V., & Ozsahin, I. (2017). Evaluating nuclear medicine imaging devices using fuzzy PROMETHEE method. Procedia computer science, 120, 699-705.
Tarkin, J. M., Joshi, F. R., Evans, N. R., Chowdhury, M. M., Figg, N. L., Shah, A. V., … & Kuc, R. E. (2017). Detection of atherosclerotic inflammation by 68Ga-DOTATATE PET compared to [18F] FDG PET imaging. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 69(14), 1774-1791.
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