Nuclear medicine (NM) is a mechanism used to diagnose and treat many different types of diseases. NM uses very small amounts of radioactive compounds to diagnose and treat diseases by using a special camera to take pictures of the body after the compounds have been injected. The images show the activity and function of tissues and organs.
To diagnose disease, the compounds are detected by special cameras that work with computers to provide very precise pictures about the area of the body being imaged. To treat disease, the compounds are injected directly into the organ being treated.
The amount of radiation in a general nuclear imaging procedure is comparable to that received during an x-ray, and the amount received in a typical treatment procedure is kept within safe limits.
Each type of tissue that may be scanned (including bones, organs, glands, and blood vessels) uses a different radioactive compound as a tracer. The tracer remains in the body temporarily before it is passed in the urine or stool (feces).
For more information on specific types of nuclear medicine scans, please visit the Intermountain Health Topic Library:
Safety in Imaging
At Intermountain Healthcare, our goal is to use the least amount of radiation (X-ray energy) needed to produce quality images. We work hard to make sure our equipment is safe and appropriate for your test. Our imaging teams have regular training on radiation safety. We communicate with doctors to help them choose imaging tests wisely.