Posts Tagged ‘nuclear medicine’

What to Expect with Nuclear Medicine Imaging

Radiology Services Virginia Nuclear medicine imagingWhen you hear the term nuclear medicine, there’s a chance you may be a bit concerned with the treatment. After all, nuclear fallout, nuclear weapons, and nuclear meltdowns all have a negative connotation. When it comes to nuclear medicine imaging, however, there is no danger in it.

What is Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine isn’t something you take, like a pain reliever or antibiotic. Rather, it’s simply an imaging process, or a scan. What happens during this scan is a small amount of radioactive material is used, alongside a special camera and computer, to capture images of the insides of your body.

Of course, there are other imaging techniques, so why use nuclear medicine for imaging? Simply stated, because nuclear medicine imaging is able to detect molecular activity with precision, and can discover diseases in their earliest stages, during which time they’re easier to treat.

Preparing for the Exam

Generally speaking, there isn’t a lot you need to do to prepare for a nuclear medicine scan. If, however, the scan will be looking at the stomach, you may be asked to not eat food before coming. Likewise, if the scan is for the kidneys, you may be asked to drink lots of water beforehand. Whatever the case, your radiologist will let you know what you should do before you come in.

What You Should Expect

Most scans will have you lie down on a table. The camera may look like a CT scanner, however it may also be positioned above the table or below the table. While the images are being taken, you must stay as still as possible so as to get the most accurate image. Don’t worry about the radioactivity lingering in your body, either. The majority of it leaves your body through urine and stool. The rest disappears over time, so if you were hoping to gain superpowers like Spider-Man from nuclear medicine, you’re out of luck.

 

If you need nuclear medicine imaging or other radiology services, please schedule an appointment with us at Peninsula Radiology by giving us a call at (757) 989-8830.

Bone Density Testing: What is it and Why is it Important?

bone density testing at Peninsula Radiology

What is bone density testing?

Bone density testing—also known as dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA)—uses x-ray images to assess bone mineral density (BMD). The absorption of dual x-ray beams by a patient’s bone is measured to determine the overall strength of the bone and the risk of fracture. The test is typically performed on the lower spine and hips.

What does bone density testing discover?

A bone density test is currently the only way to diagnose osteoporosis, a disease characterized by decreased bone density and quality. Osteoporosis and low bone density (osteopenia) increase the risk of bone fracture. Therefore, DEXA can be used to:

  • Diagnose osteoporosis, either before or after a bone fracture
  • Identify decreased bone density before you break a bone
  • Assess your risk of bone fractures
  • Monitor the success of osteoporosis treatment

When is bone density testing recommended?

Your healthcare provider will conduct a thorough health assessment to determine if you’re at risk for osteoporosis or decreased bone density. A bone density test may be considered if:

  • Further bone testing is recommended based on the results of a screening test such as a peripheral dual x-ray absorptiometry (pDXA), quantitative ultrasound (QUS), or peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT)
  • You’ve lost height of at least ½ inch within a year
  • You’ve lost a total height of 1 ½ inches
  • You’ve had a break or bone loss in your spine
  • You are a woman aged 65 or older
  • You are a man aged 70 or older
  • You break a bone after age 50
  • You are a post-menopausal woman not taking estrogen
  • You have risk factors such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, type 1 diabetes, or a thyroid condition
  • You use medications that can cause bone loss, such as corticosteroids, anti-seizure medications, or high-dose thyroid replacement medications

How is bone density testing conducted?

Bone density tests are fast, easy, and noninvasive outpatient procedures. You will lay on a padded table while a mechanical imaging device passes over your body. You will be asked to stay still and perhaps hold your breath for a few seconds to ensure a clear image. The amount of radiation you’re exposed to is very small.

How are bone density test results interpreted?

Bone density test results are reported in T-scores and Z-scores:

T-score

Your T-score measures your bone mass compared to the bone mass of a healthy young adult of your gender.

  • -1 and above: Normal bone density
  • Between -1.1 and -2.5: Osteopenia (low bone density)
  • -2.5 and below: Osteoporosis

Z-score

Your Z-score measures your bone mass compared to healthy adults of your age, gender, weight, and ethnicity. If your score is significantly higher or lower than normal, you may need further medical tests.

 

If you meet any of the above mentioned recommendations for considering bone density testing, give Peninsula Radiology a call at (757) 898-8830. We’d love to help!

What is Nuclear Medicine?

nuclear medicineWhat is Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine is a medical specialty that is used to diagnose and treat diseases in a safe and painless way. It uses small amounts of radioactive material are used to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases. The procedures that are used are able to pinpoint molecular activity within the body, and therefore offer the potential to identify disease in its earliest stages.

When is Nuclear Medicine Used? 

Molecular imaging procedures are used to diagnose and manage the treatment :

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Lung disorders
  • Bone disorders
  • Kidney and thyroid disorders,  and more.

What are the Benefits of Nuclear Medicine?

  • Examinations provide details on both function and anatomic structure of the body that is often unattainable using other imaging procedures.
  • For many diseases, scans provide the most useful information needed to make a diagnosis or to treatment plan.
  • less expensive than exploratory surgery.
  • Offers the potential to identify disease in its earliest stage, often before symptoms occur or abnormalities can be detected with other diagnostic tests.

If you have any questions, please ask your physician. You can find more information about nuclear medicine on our services page. Thank you for choosing Peninsula Radiology for your diagnostic needs!

What is Nuclear Medicine and How is It Used?

nuclear medicine radiologist Newport News VANuclear medicine is a global term used to describe a form of medical imaging that relies on the use of trace amounts of radioactive materials to aid in the imaging of the human body.

What Is a Radiotracer?

The amount of radioactive materials, commonly referred to as a ‘radiotracer’, is extremely small and should pose no medical risk or radiation exposure risk to the patient.

The purpose of the radiotracer is to allow medical imaging systems to easily image certain types of tissue. Radiotracers emit miniscule amounts of gamma radiation, which is easily detected by special medical imaging equipment. Cameras and computers can use the radiation to create an accurate image of the area in which the radiotracer is concentrated.

Advantages of Nuclear Medicine as a Real-Time Diagnostic Tool

Nuclear medicine has a number of advantages over other imaging techniques. For instance, since the material containing the radiotracer can be ingested, it can allow for a detailed imaging study of the gastrointestinal or renal system as the material is processed by the body. For this reason, nuclear medicine is commonly used as a diagnostic tool for gastrointestinal disorders and renal function studies.

Radiotracers can be introduced to the patient’s body in several ways. The three most common ways are: injected, inhaled as a gas or swallowed.The actual trace material only makes up a very small amount of the material that is introduced into the patient’s body. The majority of the material swallowed, injected or inhaled is simply used to transport the material into the body.

Once the patient has taken the radiotracer into his body, the next step is the actual imaging process. In most cases, this process, involving a special camera, is a relatively quick, simple process.

No Risk of Long-Term Radiation

Afterwards, a patient’s body naturally expels the radiotracers. Nuclear medicine used in medical imaging carries no risk of long-term radiation exposure.

Images obtained through this process may be later combined or studied side-by-side with images obtained through other imaging techniques, such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

Nuclear medicine is a safe, powerful diagnostic tool your doctor can use to diagnose and treat many common conditions that would not be as easily treatable — or detectable — without the use of nuclear medicine.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding nuclear medicine. To schedule an appointment or procedure at one of our seven Peninsula Radiology locations, call (757) 989-8830.

What is Nuclear Medicine and How is it Used?

Nuclear MedicineAt Peninsula Radiology Associates, one of our core beliefs is that our patients deserve to know in detail about any radiologic procedures or scans they or their loved ones plan to have at one of our facilities. This month, we focus on exactly what “nuclear medicine” is and how it is used by doctors to diagnose and treat patients.

Nuclear medicine is a medical specialty which uses radioactive “tracers,” also known as radiopharmaceuticals, to evaluate the status of bodily functions and to diagnose and treat disease. It is safe and painless.

The term “radiopharmaceutical” refers to the combination of medicine (a pharmaceutical) attached to a small quantity of radioactive material (a radioisotope) introduced into your body in order to facilitate scanning. Which radiopharmaceutical will be used depends upon your procedure, but all are FDA-approved.

Radiopharmaceuticals can be injected into a vein, inhaled as a gas or swallowed. The radiotracer gives off gamma radiation as it decays, allowing a gamma camera to scan the radiation area and create a moving image which details, for example, your gastrointestinal system as it processes the radiopharmaceutical through your body. Your particular radiopharmaceutical is designed to go to a specific place in your body where disease or an abnormality may be suspected.

Gamma cameras, placed a few inches from your body, do not transmit any radiation to patients, unlike other imaging devices such at computed tomography (CT) scanners and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They are silent, not rattling noisily as some scanning machines do. Nuclear medicine imaging carries no risk of long-term radiation exposure.

Nuclear medicine procedures often can identify abnormalities quite early in the progression of a disease. This early detection allows a disease to be treated sooner rather than later, when a more successful prognosis is likely. Radiologists can make diagnoses based on the way patients’ bodies are known to handle substances in the “health” state versus the “disease” state.

Nuclear medicine can be used for many diagnostic functions, including:

  • Identifying abnormal lesions deep within the body without exploratory surgery.
  • Determining whether or not certain organs are functioning normally: whether your heart is adequately pumping blood; whether your brain is receiving an adequate blood supply; and whether your brain cells are functioning normally.
  • Evaluating your kidneys for normal function, and discerning whether your stomach is emptying properly.
  • Determining your blood volume, lung function, vitamin absorption and/or bone density.
  • Identifying the sites of seizures.
  • Finding cancers, determining how they respond to treatment and determining whether infected bones will heal.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at Peninsula Radiology Associates if you have any questions or concerns regarding your nuclear medicine procedure. To schedule an appointment with us at any of our seven convenient locations, please call (757) 989-8830. Don’t worry; at PRA, you are always in good hands!