What is nuclear medicine?

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It is a branch of medicine and medical imaging that uses unsealed radioactive substances in diagnosis and therapy. In a peaceful use of nuclear science, nuclear medicine has a prominent place. The alpha, beta and gamma radiations from the radioactive nucleus have revealed their curative power. Today, radio isotopes have become valuable tools to solve many complex diseases.

In diagnosis, radioactive substances are administered to patients and the radiation emitted is measured. The majority of this diagnostic test involves the formation of an image using a gamma camera.

Though the use of radio-isotopes to cure diseases go back to 1930, but its full development took place in the 1970s. The main radio-isotopes used in nuclear medicine include Cobalt-60, Iridium-192, Gold-199, Oxygen-15, Nitrogen-13, Gallium-68 etc. Cobalt-60, Iridium-192 and Gold- 199 have been used to cure cancer, lodine-131 is being used to cure thyroid disorders.

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For detection of infection of Tuberculosis, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre has developed sero-diagnostic test kit, X-ray imaging using a 3-D cone-beam tomography is another important development. Gallium Salts like gallium citrate and gallium nitrate are used as radio contrast agents in medical imaging.

For these applications, a radioactive isotope such as Ga-67 is used. Radioactive substance thalium-201 is used for diagnostic purposes in nuclear medicine, particularly in stress test used for risk stratification in patients with coronary artery disease. Bhabha Atomic Research Centers, Radiation Medicine Centre in Mumbai is involved in research and development of nuclear medicine.

This centre offers diagnostic and therapeutic services using radioisotopes and promotes human resource development in nuclear medicine. Radio- immune assays and related procedures are used for the measurements of hormones, enzymes, and certain serum protein.

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