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Nuclear Medicine Glows and Grows


Nuclear medicine relies on the fields of chemistry, physics, pharmacology, mathematics and computer technology. Other radiographic imaging techniques rely on x-rays (CT) or magnetic fields (MR) which provide anatomic information, whereas Nuclear Medicine uses radioactive materials (called radiopharmaceuticals) to provide physiologic and metabolic information. The most advanced technologies incorporate CT or MR into the nuclear camera, the so-called hybrid scanners, which provide not only physiologic and metabolic information but allow precise anatomic localization of the abnormality visualized on the nuclear scan.

There are two general imaging techniques employed in nuclear medicine. Each technique relies on different radioactive materials for image production. The first is PET (positronemission tomography). The currently available radioisotopes have a short life span (between 10 minutes and 2 hours). When combined with CT the images produced provide a three-dimensional representation of metabolic processes within the body. The most commonly used radiopharmaceutical is fluorodeoxyglucose which is an analog of glucose. The second is SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography). The radioisotopes used with this method have longer life spans (from 6 hours to several days), and again, when combined with CT, show abnormalities which can be precisely located using the concomitant CT.

We're Glowing . . .

During 2013 alone, additional diagnostic imaging procedures and a unique therapeutic procedure have been initiated as a result of new radiopharmaceuticals receiving FDA approval. These include:

  • PET-CT imaging with F-18 labeled florbetapir (Amyvid) for the detection of Alzheimer's dementia. A second agent, F-18 labeled flutemetamol (Vizamyl) was just approved on October 25, 2013.
  • SPECT-CT imaging with I-123 labeled ioflupane (DaTscan) for the detection of Parkinsonian syndromes.
  • Palliative therapy for patients with castration resistant prostate cancer with symptomatic bony metastases with radium-223 dichloride (Xofigo).

We're growing . . .

A second PET-CT scanner will be installed in 2014. This additional PET-CT scanner will allow us to expand imaging services.

PET-CT is most commonly performed for the following indications:

  • Diagnosis, staging or restaging of cancer.
  • Metabolic brain evaluation for dementia or epilepsy.
  • Cardiac perfusion including coronary flow reserve.

Cardiac SPECT

A new SPECT camera is currently being installed in the Nuclear Cardiology area (second floor of the diagnostic center). This new camera is dedicated to cardiac imaging and allows faster imaging while reducing radiation exposure. One significant advantage of this new camera is that patients weighing up to 500 pounds can be imaged with superb image quality resulting in improved diagnostic accuracy.

There are several more novel radiopharmaceuticals on the horizon for diagnostic applications, some of which we are currently evaluating during the clinical trial phase.

It's an exciting time in Nuclear Medicine!

If you have questions about any of the tests and treatments we offer (and there are many!), would like to request more information or schedule a tour, please give us a call at 513-584-2287 or 513-584-9024.

For more general information about Nuclear Medicine, please click on the following link: (PDF)

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UC Department of Radiology

234 Goodman Street
PO Box 670761
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0761

Phone: 513-584-4396
Fax: 513-584-0431

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Pam Brierley
Phone: 513-558-2043
Fax: 513-558-1599