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What is nuclear medicine?
Nuclear medicine is a branch of diagnostic medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material called radiotracers or radiopharmaceuticals to diagnose and determine the severity of or treat a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine, neurological disorders and other abnormalities within the body. Because nuclear medicine procedures are able to pinpoint molecular activity within the body, they offer the potential to identify disease in its earliest stages as well as a patient’s immediate response to therapeutic interventions.
You may be worried about something that involves the word “nuclear,” but please be assured that it is safe and uses only the necessary amount of radiation to deliver a diagnosis. This radiation leaves the body within a few days, and staying well hydrated before and after the procedure helps to eliminate it faster. For most nuclear medicine exams it is not necessary to avoid contact with family members.