The discovery of x-rays that took place more than a century ago majorly changed the practice of medicine by allowing physicians and scientists to look inside a living body. Today, modern medicine is undergoing another great transformation, and nuclear medicine and molecular imaging are on the leading edge, looking deep inside the body to reveal its internal processes. You can read the nuclear medicine journal to understand in-depth about it.
Unlike traditional imaging studies that show primarily structural pictures, nuclear medicine, and molecular imaging visualize the way a body is functioning and what happens at the cellular and molecular levels. The evolution in diagnostic imaging, from producing anatomical images to imaging and measuring the body’s physiological processes, is critically important to all departments of medicine today, from diagnosing the disease at its initial stage and developing effective therapies to personalizing treatment.
With the help of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging technology, scientists and healthcare providers are:
- quickly assessing new drugs
- gaining a better understanding of the pathways of disease
- monitoring patient response to treatment
- improving the selection of therapy
- finding new and effective ways to identify individuals at risk for disease.
Why Are Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Unique?
In traditional diagnostic imaging, an external source of energy such as magnetic fields, x-rays or ultrasound waves are used to create images of bone and soft tissue. In nuclear medicine and molecular imaging techniques, the energy source is introduced into the body, where it gets infused in a specific tissue, organ or bodily process and is then detected using an external device such gamma camera, SPECT or PET scanners to help understand organ function and cellular activity. Since diseases begin with microscopic cell changes, nuclear medicine and molecular imaging have the ability to identify diseases in their earlier and more treatable stage, often before standard imaging, and other tests are able to provide information on abnormalities.
It would require more invasive procedures such as biopsy or surgery to obtain this unique information without nuclear medicine and molecular imaging techniques. Otherwise, it would be unattainable.
With their ability to detect the early signs of diseases and other abnormalities, nuclear medicine and molecular imaging provides the potential to change medical care from reactive to proactive, thereby saving and improving several lives.
How Are Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Used?
These techniques are playing a very important role in medical research, patient care, and pharmaceutical development. Presently, nuclear and molecular diagnostic imaging studies help in studying virtually about every major organ system in the body. Also, the number of nuclear medicine–based therapies for cancer and other diseases is expanding. You could also learn about internal medicine from the internal medicine journal.
Nuclear medicine and molecular imaging are essential to the care of patients with heart disease, cancer, and brain disorders:
Nuclear medicine offers an exact test for diagnosing coronary artery disease in patients who might be at risk for a heart attack through myocardial perfusion imaging.
Lymphoma, esophageal, colon, and lung cancer are just some of the many types of cancer for which nuclear and molecular imaging can profoundly change the direction and outcome of patient care.
Along with helping physicians diagnose dementia, nuclear imaging also offers imaging agents that successfully detect early changes in the brain in patients associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
In the lab, nuclear medicine and molecular imaging methods help scientists in a range of disciplines to get a better understanding of the molecular pathways and mechanisms of diseases. By assisting researchers in assessing new therapies, this technology is also contributing to the increased fast-paced development of new and better effective drugs.