Nature of the work
Nuclear medicine covers all applications of
unsealed radioactive materials in diagnosis, therapy and research.
The delivery of nuclear medicine in the UK is currently provided by
physicians, radiologists and those dually accredited in radiology
and nuclear medicine.
Working in nuclear medicine
Nuclear medicine deals with a range of
pathology across all age ranges, but specific clinical practice
involves major input in:
Services are hospital based and are either
integrated with other radiology facilities or comprise their own
independent department. The range of diagnostic investigations has
increased over recent years, with continuing radiopharmaceutical
development and the wider availability of equipment like
tomographic gamma cameras and positron emission tomography (PET)
Advances in drug radio-labelling and delivery
systems have led to a parallel expansion in unsealed source
therapy, extending the range of conditions that can be treated by
this approach. This, together with the expanding role of nuclear
cardiology studies in coronary heart disease, the rising importance
of PET scans in cancer staging, and the delivery of sentinel node
imaging in patients with breast cancer and melanoma, will have a
major positive impact upon the importance of the specialty.
Common procedures / interventions
Nuclear physicians carry out enjoyably varied
and complex procedures. Diagnostic procedures involve:
- bone scintigraphy
- stress and rest myocardial perfusion scintigraphy
- radio-isotope renal imaging
- lung scintigraphy
- measurement of glomerular filtration rate
- positron emission tomography.
Therapeutic procedures include:
- radio-iodine treatment of thyrotoxicosis
- radio-iodine treatment of thyroid cancer
- palliation of bone metastases.
Associated sub specialties
Nuclear medicine can be combined with other
sub specialties such as acute internal medicine and endocrinology.
Sub-specialist areas also include:
- nuclear cardiology
- metabolic bone disease
Most nuclear medicine specialists also
undertake radionuclide therapy.
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