Nuclear medicine imaging procedures can identify abnormalities very early in the progress of a disease — before many medical problems may be apparent with other diagnostic tests. Nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive materials (radiopharmaceuticals) to diagnose disease. The radiopharmaceuticals are detected by special types of cameras that work with computers to provide precise pictures of the body area being imaged.
Nuclear medicine differs from an x-ray, ultrasound or other diagnostic test because it determines the presence of disease based onbiological changes rather than changes in anatomy. Nuclear medicine imaging is unique because it provides doctors with information about both structure and function.