Nuclear medicine is a specialized area of radiology that uses very small amounts of radioactive materials, or radiotracers, to examine organ function and structure. This branch of radiology is often used to help diagnose and treat abnormalities very early in the progression of a disease.
Small amounts of radiotracers are typically injected into the bloodstream, inhaled or swallowed. The radiotracer travels through the area being examined and gives off energy in the form of gamma rays detected by a special camera to create images of the inside of your body.
By measuring the behavior of the radionuclide in the body during a nuclear scan, the doctor can assess and diagnose various conditions, such as tumors, abscesses, hematomas, organ enlargement or cysts. A nuclear scan may also be used to assess organ function and blood circulation.
Among many other things, nuclear medicine may be used to:
- visualize heart blood flow, function and the extent of any disease or defect
- scan lungs for respiratory and blood flow problems
- evaluate bones for fractures, tumors, infection and arthritis
- investigate abnormalities in the brain in patients with certain symptoms or disorders, such as seizures, memory loss and suspected abnormalities in blood flow
- identify abnormal function of the gallbladder and bowel
- measure thyroid function to detect an overactive or underactive thyroid
- evaluate spinal fluid flow and potential spinal fluid leaks
- evaluate lymphedema
- evaluate fever of unknown origin
- locate the presence of infection
For cancer, nuclear medicine may be used to determine the presence or spread of cancer in various parts of the body; plan treatment; evaluate response to therapy; detect recurrence; and detect rare tumors of the pancreas and adrenal glands.
Stuart A. Rabinowitz, M.D., Ph.D. is a radiologist and division head of nuclear medicine for LifeBridge Health. He has more than 20 years of experience practicing radiology and nuclear medicine in Maryland.
Dr. Rabinowitz received his medical degree from the New York University School of Medicine. He completed an internship in medicine at Salem Hospital in Boston, and then completed both a residency in radiology and a fellowship in nuclear medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also has a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Physics from Harvard University.
At LifeBridge Health, we offer nuclear medicine at two locations:
- Northwest Hospital
- Sinai Hospital
Schedule an appointment for nuclear medicine today.