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Nuclear Medicine History

Nuclear Medicine stems from many scientific discoveries, the earliest placed sometime between the discovery of artificial radioactivity in 1934 and the production of radionuclides by Oak Ridge National Laboratory for medicine related use in 1946.

Many historians consider the discovery of artificially produced radionuclides by Frederic Joliot-Curie and Irene Joliot-Curie (better known as Madame Curie) in 1934 as the most significant milestone in nuclear medicine.

A landmark event occurred in 1946 when a thyroid cancer patient’s treatment with radioactive iodine caused complete disappearance of the spread of the patient’s cancer. The wide-spread use of nuclear medicine, however, did not begin until the early 1950s.

The value of radioactive iodine became apparent as its use increased to measure the function of the thyroid gland and to diagnose thyroid disorders.

The combination of diagnostic and therapeutic applications have expanded over the years and resulted in dramatic breakthroughs in medicine.

During the mid-60s there was rapid growth in nuclear medicine. Today there are nearly 100 different nuclear medicine imaging studies and treatments which uniquely provide information about virtually every major organ system within the body.

Current advances in technology and instrumentation continue to make nuclear medicine an integral part of patient care, and an important diagnostic and therapeutic specialty in the armamentarium of medical science.

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