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How is nuclear medicine different from other imaging?
Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam, the radiotracer is either injected into the body (typically into a vein or directly under the skin), swallowed as a liquid or inhaled as a gas. It eventually accumulates in the organ or area of the body being examined. Radioactive emissions from the radiotracer are detected by a special camera (gamma camera) or imaging device that produces pictures offering details on the structure and function of organs and tissues in your body. Unlike other imaging techniques (such as X-Ray, CT, MRI or ultrasound), nuclear medicine imaging exams focus on depicting physiologic processes within the body--such as rates of metabolism or levels of various other chemical activity--rather than showing anatomy and structure.