Nuclear medicine involves the use of radioactive materials, or isotopes, to obtain specific diagnostic information.
These isotopes transmit a pattern of rays representing the organ size, shape and function. The rays are detected by a special camera which, when coupled with a computer, produces a characteristic image on a screen.
Nuclear medicine tests differ from most other imaging modalities in that diagnostic tests primarily show the physiological function of the system being investigated as opposed to traditional anatomical imaging such as CT or MRI. Nuclear medicine imaging studies are generally more organ or tissue specific (e.g.: lungs scan, heart scan, bone scan, brain scan, etc.) than those in conventional radiology imaging, which focus on a particular section of the body (e.g.: chest X-ray, abdomen/pelvis CT scan, head CT scan, etc.).
In addition, there are nuclear medicine studies that allow imaging of the whole body based on certain cellular receptors or functions. Examples are whole body PET scan or PET/CT scans, gallium scans, indium white blood cell scans, MIBG and octreotide scans. Click here from more information on PET Scans.