Nuclear medicine technology involves the use of radioactive materials, called radiopharmaceuticals, to create images of organs, study body functions, analyze biological specimens and treat disease. Nuclear medicine technologists apply the art and skill of diagnostic imaging and therapeutics through the safe and effective use of radionuclides.
For organ-imaging procedures, radiopharmaceuticals are administered to patients intravenously, orally or by inhalation. The radioactive material concentrates in a specific organ or organ system. Instruments called scintillation cameras can detect the radiation emitted by the radiopharmaceutical concentrated in the organ. The camera produces a computer image of the organ.
The images allow medical professionals to study the structure and measure the function of the organ and to identify tumors, areas of infection or other disorders. The radiation dose is small, and the patient experiences little or no discomfort during the procedure.