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Nuclear Medicine

About Nuclear Medicine

Radiological Imaging Nuclear Medicine at the Royal United Hospital is a multidisciplinary speciality that combines the talents of Nuclear medicine technologists, radiologists, radiopharmacists and medical physicists.

In Radiopharmacy, radioactive material is labelled to pharmaceuticals that are useful in targeting various organs and functions. In Nuclear Medicine, these 'radio-pharmaceuticals' are administered to patients either orally or by intravenous injection. The patient then waits, (times vary depending on the test being performed) and is then positioned in front of a piece of equipment called a Gamma Camera. Pictures are taken by the Gamma Camera of the distribution of the radiopharmaceutical (similar to taking a picture with an ordinary camera, but instead of light the camera 'sees' gamma rays). In addition to this imaging test, non-imaging procedures are also performed; these tests rely on the use of specialised counting equipment to measure the radioactivity in the patient's blood or breath.

The radioactive materials used tend to have short half-lives and hence the activity quickly diminishes to very low levels. The dose received from undergoing a Nuclear Medicine procedure is low and for the most part is comparable to or lower than the average annual dose received from natural background radiation.

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