In the English language, the word nuclear can apply to several distinctive definitions regarding explosive energy. No matter how you put it—or how you see it—nuclear is an extremely ominous and subjective adjective. Combine it with the field of medicine, and suddenly the choate term has a blended, newfangled meaning. Nuclear medicine? How can radioactive medicine be an advisable and valuable solution in modern healthcare?
Undeniably, nuclear medicine is an often unknown or misunderstood fusion of science and medicine. Common connotations of radiation lead individuals to puzzle over its antidotal value. For greater understanding, here’s a compiled guide on nuclear medicine’s safety and benefits. Read on to uncover more about this innovative specialty.
Nuclear Medicine: A Sub-specialty of Radiology
One of the long-standing pivotal applications of radiochemistry includes radiology. Contemporary physicians and technicians regularly utilize radiation in radiology—and furthermore in the sector known as nuclear medicine. Many people are knowledgeable about x-rays or have undergone one before, but not as many are aware of the subset of nuclear medicine that exists within a radiology department.
With standard radiology, x-rays enter a human body externally from the outside for beneficial medical imaging. However, in nuclear medicine, technicians introduce radioisotopes—aka radioactive tracers—from the inside to diagnose and treat disease. This type of nuclear technology has held a useful position in the medical field for over half a century, with millions of procedures performed annually.
The Applications of Nuclear Medicine
Healthcare professionals commonly utilize nuclear medicine for diagnosis purposes. This painless, effective, and low-risk method of diagnostic imaging reveals significant details regarding body anatomy and organ function. No other existing medical method can reveal these critical images. Uniquely, the acute sensitivity of nuclear imaging testing offers details about abnormalities indicating the presence of disease or cancer.
While diagnostic purposes are the main operation of nuclear medical techniques, this sector also holds invaluable therapeutic applications. Therapeutic applications cater greatly in favor of personal prognoses and treatments.
Safety Concerns About Nuclear Medicine
Understanding nuclear medicine’s safety and benefits are key for reassurance. In general, medical radiation exposure to a patient is equivalent to routine x-ray or CT imaging examinations. For the average individual, the risk is minuscule. In comparison to the outstanding benefit of medical study and care, the rewards outweigh the risks. Risks vary from person to person, but each patient receives only the minimum amount of a radiopharmaceutical for its intended purpose by a specialist.
Though not often thought about customarily, each human being encounters or interacts with natural and human-made radiation sources through normal living. In modern society, the same properties that make radiation dangerous make them equally credible and reliable for use. With proper precautions and knowledge of its characteristics, humankind can take advantage of nuclear applications for the ultimate benefits.