Nuclear scanning is a medical procedure that uses radioactive material to create images of the body. It is used to diagnose and monitor various medical conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders. Nuclear scans are also used to assess the effectiveness of treatments. While nuclear scans can provide valuable information but also have some health risks.
In this article, we will explore the basics of nuclear scanning, its associated risks, and how to minimize those risks.
What is a Nuclear Scan?A nuclear scan is a type of medical imaging test that uses a small amount of radioactive material to create images of the body. The radioactive material is injected into the body, usually through an IV, and then travels through the bloodstream. As it passes through the body, it emits gamma rays that are detected by a special camera. This camera creates an image of the body's internal structures, which can be used to diagnose and monitor medical conditions. Nuclear scans are commonly used to diagnose and monitor cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders.
They can also assess the effectiveness of treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Types of Nuclear ScansSeveral different types of nuclear scans can be used for different purposes. A stress test is a nuclear scan used to assess how well the heart is functioning. During a stress test, a patient will be asked to exercise while being monitored by a medical team.
The team will then use a nuclear scan to measure how much blood is flowing through the heart. Another type of nuclear scan is a PET scan (positron emission tomography). This type of scan uses radioactive material to create images of the body's internal structures. It can be used to diagnose cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders. It can also be used to assess the effectiveness of treatments.
Risks Associated with Nuclear ScansNuclear scans involve exposure to radiation, which can have health risks.
The radiation exposure from a nuclear scan is usually very small and not considered dangerous. However, there are some risks associated with repeated or prolonged exposure to radiation. The most common risk associated with nuclear scans is an increased risk of cancer. Studies have shown that people who have had multiple nuclear scans have an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as thyroid cancer. In addition, people exposed to high radiation levels from nuclear tests or accidents have an increased risk of developing cancer. Other health risks associated with nuclear scans include an increased risk of genetic mutations and birth defects in children born to parents exposed to radiation from exposure to ionizing radiation. In addition, people exposed to high radiation levels may experience other health effects, such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue., and possibly death. At times it can be linked to parents who worked in the medical industry and have been exposed—the need for dosimeter badges when working around ionizing radiation in critical in keeping records of radiation exposure.