Radionuclide is an unstable isotope, which becomes more stable when energy is released in the form of radiation (nuclear decay). This radiation can include particulate emission or y-ray photons. Radiation produced by radionuclides can be used in images and in certain situations for the treatment of disorders (eg, thyroid disorders).
A radionuclide can also be combined with various stable formulations to form a radioactive medical preparation that locates a specific anatomical or dead structure. For example, a radionuclide combined with a diphosphonate is used to map the skeleton and perform a check for bone metastasis or infection; Radionuclide-marked white blood cells are used to identify inflammation; and red blood cells marked with radionuclides are used to localize bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract. The sulfur colloid noted by radionuclides is taken by the liver, spleen and bone marrow. Radionuclide-labeled iminodic acid derivatives are used to map the biliary system and perform a check for biliary obstruction and gallbladder disorders. Other clinical methods of nuclear medicine are used to display the cerebral-vascular system, thyroid gland, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, genitourinary system and tumors.
Different types of cameras are used to obtain images. Anger (gamma) camera uses a crystal to convert photons emitted by the radionucleus into an image. Cameras for the whole body are used for bone pictures; there are also portable cameras. Single-photon emission computed tomography uses a rotating camera and computer algorithms to produce images that allow three-dimensional localization of the radionuclide feed, similar to the CT image.
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