Converting Energy to Medical Progress

Doctors Rely on Nuclear Medicine
To Help Many Types of Patients

Nuclear medicine is an exciting field in healthcare that provides important information for diagnosing,evaluating,and managing disease.Virtually all hospitals, as well as many clinics and private doctors' offices, perform nuclear medicine tests and scans. About 13 million nuclear medicine procedures are performed on patients each year (35,000 a day) in the United States. Previous research, carried out from the 1940s through the 1990s--funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER)--made it possible for today's doctors to rely on nuclear medicine to help patients. These photographs represent several types of patients who benefit every day from clinical nuclear medicine procedures. Nuclear medicine truly helps patients "everywhere in healthcare"--and so does BER Medical Sciences through its 50-year legacy of nuclear medicine research.

Cardiology: Patients with Heart Disease

Nuclear medicine provides several ways to evaluate heart disease. Heart scans can show whether certain regions of the heart muscle lack an adequate supply of blood,which can help cardiologists decide whether a patient needs angioplasty, bypass surgery, or changes in lifestyle. Images that show metabolic activity can help predict the success of these revascularization procedures. Other nuclear medicine tests can evaluate the strength of heart muscle contraction.

Oncology: Patients with Cancer

Nuclear medicine scans can detect and stage many types of cancer. These scans can also show how well a patient responds to treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. In some cases, nuclear medicine can be used to treat selected cancers.

Neurology: Patients at Risk for, or Recovering from, Stroke

Nuclear medicine brain imaging can show regions of the brain with inadequate blood flow or metabolism, which can help doctors choose therapy for preventing a stroke. Brain scans obtained after a stroke can help doctors monitor the patient's recovery.

Digestive Diseases: Patients with Abdominal Pain

Nuclear medicine tests can show whether the gallbladder functions normally or whether a patient has gallbladder disease. These scans are also used after surgery to detect abnormal bile drainage from the liver.

Sports Medicine: Athletes at Risk for Stress Fractures

Nuclear medicine bone scans play a major role in sports medicine since they can detect stress fractures before they show up on x-rays.

Surgery: For Children with Epilepsy

Nuclear medicine brain scans can guide surgeons to operate on the region of the brain that causes a child's epilepsy when the seizures cannot be controlled with drugs.

Thyroid Disorders: Patients with Graves' Disease

Nuclear medicine tests help evaluate many thyroid disorders. Moreover, therapy with radioactive iodine has become the treatment of choice for overactive thyroids (Graves' disease) and for most thyroid cancers following surgery.

Gastrointestinal Disease: Patients with GI Bleeding

Nuclear medicine tests can determine whether a patient is actively bleeding into the bowel. Such gastrointestinal (GI) bleeds can be caused by polyps, ulcers, tumors, inflammation, diverticulitis, and other GI disorders. Frequently, the nuclear medicine scan also discloses the location of the bleeding site so the problem can be treated more efficiently.

Infection: Patients with Hidden Abscess

Nuclear medicine scans can identify a hidden abscess in a patient with an internal infection. Typically, these patients have fever of unknown origin, a sign of infection.

Pulmonology: Patients with Lung Disease

Nuclear medicine lung tests are used to evaluate respiratory disorders. These tests provide information about the extent and severity of such disorders as emphysema, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and life-threatening blood clots in the lung.

Dementia: Patients with Alzheimer's Disease

Nuclear medicine brain scans can help doctors diagnose Alzheimer's disease, and differentiate it from other types of dementia early in the course of disease when treatments are more effective.

Next: Radiopharmaceutical Energy Reveals World of Biology


Table of Contents * About BER * Many Patients * How Does It Work? * BER Medical * Future Healthcare * BNL * LBNL * ORNL * Sloan-Kettering * UCLA * Washington Univ. * Univ. of Michigan * 50-Years * Credits

Published April 2001

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