Nuclear medicine imaging combines the use of computers, detectors and radioactive substances to provide images of human physiology and anatomy. This can provide real-time images, in addition to creating digitized still images. These images are created by the detection of emissions from a radioactive substance administered to the patient. Such radiation to the patient is generally similar to exposure in an x-ray exam. Nuclear medicine imaging is commonly used to detect tumors, aneurysms, irregular or inadequate blood flow to various tissues, blood cell disorders, and inadequate functioning of organs such as thyroid, heart, kidney, and lungs, among others.
Positron emission tomography, also called a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine imaging that provides a look at a person's body by detecting radiation from the emission of positrons. Prior to the test an isotope is injected into the patient's bloodstream, allowing the PET equipment to detect the radiation and create an image of the patient's body.
PET scans are most often used to detect cancer and to examine the effects of cancer therapy. They are also commonly used to evaluate heart and brain function.
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