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What are the benefits vs. risks?

  • The functional information provided by nuclear medicine examinations is unique and currently unattainable by using other imaging procedures. For many diseases, nuclear medicine studies yield the most useful information needed to make a diagnosis and to determine appropriate treatment, if any.
  • Nuclear medicine is much less traumatic than exploratory surgery, and allergic reaction to the radiopharmaceutical material is extremely rare.
  • Because the doses of radiopharmaceutical administered are very small, nuclear medicine procedures result in exposure to a small dose of radiation. Nuclear medicine has been used for more than five decades, and there are no known long-term adverse effects from such low-dose studies.
  • As with all radiological procedures, be sure to inform your physician if you are pregnant. In general, exposure to radiation during pregnancy should be kept to a minimum.
  • Allergic reactions to the radiopharmaceutical can occur, but are extremely rare.

What are the limitations of General Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear medicine procedures are time-consuming. They involve administration of a radiopharmaceutical, obtaining images, and interpreting the results. It can take hours to days for the radiopharmaceutical to accumulate in the part of the body under study. Imaging can take up to three hours to perform; though new equipment is available that can substantially shorten the procedure time.