Overview

Nuclear medicine is a subspecialty within the field of radiology that uses very small amounts of injected, ingested or inhaled radioactive materials to diagnose disease and other abnormalities. Unlike conventional diagnostic imaging, which uses an external source of energy, nuclear medicine radiologists introduce a radioactive material into the body. These radioactive materials, called radiopharmaceuticals or radiotracers, get incorporated in a specific tissue or organ and are then detected by an external scanning device or specialized camera to provide images and information on organ function and cellular activity. 

Because disease begins with microscopic cell changes, nuclear medicine scans have the potential to identify disease in an earlier, more treatable stage, often before conventional imaging and other tests are able to reveal abnormalities.

A nuclear medicine scan consists of three phases: the administration of a radioactive tracer, taking images with specialized cameras or scanners and the interpretation of those images.

There are several types of nuclear medicine scans, and the radioactive tracer maybe injected into a vein, swallowed by mouth or inhaled as a gas, and eventually collects or is absorbed in the target area to be scanned. The radioactive tracer produces an energy signal that can be detected by a specialized camera or scanner (gamma camera, SPECT or PET scanners).

Nuclear Medicine Procedures

Nuclear medicine scans are used to diagnose a wide variety of medical conditions and diseases, and include:

Nuclear Medicine Safety

Because the doses of radiotracer are very small, diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures result in minimal radiation exposure. Nuclear medicine procedures have been performed for more than 50 years on adults and for more than 40 years on infants and children of all ages without any known adverse effects.

The VCU Department of Radiology, nuclear medicine specialists use the newest imaging technologies and the “ALARA” principle (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) to carefully select the amount of radiotracer that will provide an accurate test with the least amount of radiation exposure to the patient.

Learn More About Our Safety Office

Nuclear Medicine Faculty

Faculty within the subspecialty of nuclear medicine

Nuclear Medicine

Jin T. Lim, M.D., Ph.D., MPH

Jin T. Lim, M.D., Ph.D., MPH

Associate Professor

Jin T. Lim, M.D., Ph.D., MPH

Jin T. Lim, M.D., Ph.D., MPH

Associate Professor

Radiology

Email: jin.lim@vcuhealth.org

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Jianqiao Luo, Ph.D.

Jianqiao Luo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Jianqiao Luo, Ph.D.

Jianqiao Luo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Radiology

Phone: (804) 828-1443

Fax: (804) 828-4181

Email: jianqiao.luo@vcuhealth.org

Address/Location:
Gateway Building, Second Floor

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Robert L. Meredith, M.D.

Robert L. Meredith, M.D.

Assistant Professor

Robert L. Meredith, M.D.

Robert L. Meredith, M.D.

Assistant Professor

Radiology

Phone: (804) 827-4984

Fax: (804) 828-4181

Email: robert.meredith@vcuhealth.org

Address/Location:
Gateway Building, Second Floor

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