Scans

Examples of nuclear medicine scans

Nuclear medicine is better described by its modern title: Molecular Imaging. It involves recording tiny amounts of radiation emitted from within the body, rather than by shining a beam of radiation through the body from an external source (like conventional X-rays).

The basics

A radioactive isotope (most often Technetium-99m, which is low-energy and safe) is bound to a special molecule (pharmaceutical) which is designed to be taken up by a specific organ. After injection the radiopharmaceutical (or “tracer”) accumulates in the target organ and we can image the function of that organ. We use a special scanner called a gamma camera to capture images from the gamma radiation emitted by the tracer in the organ.

There are several diagnostic imaging techniques used across nuclear medicine, which includes:

Whole body bone scan

Whole body bone scan: Used to evaluate bony pathology, such as for bone pain, stress fractures, benign bone lesions, bone infections and metastases (spread of cancer to the bones).

My Cardialpperfusion scan

Myocardial perfusion (MIBI) scan : Plays a pivotal role in the non-invasive evaluation of coronary artery disease. The study not only identifies patients with coronary artery disease, it also determines overall risk of future cardiac events for the patient.

Bone scan

Bone scan: Spect-CT slices of patient with back pain due to facet joint arthritis.

Whole body bone scan

Whole body bone scan: metastases from prostate carcinoma.

Myocardial perfusion

Ventilation and perfusion (V/Q) scan: the patient had multiple pulmonary emboli (lung blood clots).

Gallium whole body scan

Gallium whole body scan: Patient had fever of unknown origin due to TB in chest lymph nodes. Accumulation in the large bowel is normal.

Overactive thyroid due to Graves' disease

Thyroid scan: Overactive thyroid due to Graves’ disease.

Thyroiditis

Thyroid scan: Thyroiditis – the thyroid is not visualized due to low tracer uptake.

Renogram

Renogram: Left kidney outflow system is obstructed and dilated due to a stone in the ureter.

Sentinel node scan

Sentinel node scan: To locate the sentinel lymph node for biopsy, to determine lymphatic spread of breast cancer.