Nuclear Medicine Imaging

Nuclear Medicine ImagingUMass Memorial Medical Center is a leader in nuclear medicine imaging, offering the latest technology along with highly trained radiologists who specialize in this field. This branch of radiology is often used to help diagnose and treat abnormalities in their very early stages.

Our specialists perform nearly 10,000 nuclear medicine studies a year – a high level of experience that demonstrates our expertise in this type of imaging.

About Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine imaging is a safe and painless way to produce images of inside your body and treat disease:

  • It not only provides information on the structure of an organ but also on how that organ is functioning (other imaging techniques detect disease based on structural appearance alone).
  • It uses very small amounts of radioactive materials (called radiopharmaceuticals) that are taken by mouth or given intravenously (injected into a vein).
  • These materials have very short half lives (their radioactivity decreases quickly), and such small amounts are used that they’re easily flushed out of the body after your test is done.
  • During a nuclear medicine scan, the radiopharmaceutical emits X-rays which are picked up by the imaging equipment, creating a map of the inside of your body and identifying areas of concern.

What Nuclear Medicine Scans at UMass Memorial Can Do

Be evaluating the function of an organ, tissue or bone, our nuclear medicine scans can help your doctor determine the cause of a medical problem. Specifically, nuclear medicine scans can be used to:

  • Analyze kidney function
  • Image blood flow and function of the heart
  • Scan lungs for respiratory and blood-flow problems
  • Identify blockage of the gallbladder
  • Evaluate bones for fracture, infection, arthritis or tumor
  • Determine the presence or spread of cancer anywhere in the body
  • Identify bleeding into the bowel
  • Locate the presence of infection
  • Measure thyroid function to detect an overactive or underactive thyroid

How Nuclear Medicine Is Used in Treatment at UMass Memorial

Nuclear medicine can be used to treat some medical conditions, especially cancer, using radiation to weaken or destroy targeted cells. This is called radiotherapy.

At UMass Memorial, radiotherapy is used to treat:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Hemangiomas (benign tumors made up of blood vessels)
  • Liver cancer
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)

Nuclear Medicine Research at UMass Memorial

For 30 years, UMass Memorial Nuclear Medicine has been a leader in developing new imaging materials, improving imaging systems and perfecting imaging rules. Current research includes:

  • Using new agents related to DNA for earlier cancer detection and therapy
  • Imaging inflammation, something that contributes to many different medical conditions
  • Lowering radiopharmaceutical dosages through improvements in imaging and correcting for patient motion
  • Developing a low-cost imaging system for improved brain imaging