Thesis Topics in Radiology: Nuclear Medicine

Although the field of radiology is fascinating, it is one of the most difficult subjects to study. Once a student has chosen a case among thesis topics in radiology, it may take several weeks of research before even starting to write. In order to prepare a great thesis, one has to present the problem from different prospectives and offer new and interesting solutions. Moreover, the difficulty and volume of information vary, which makes it harder to choose among thesis topics in radiology.

Nuclear Medicine

The x-ray discovery has significantly changed the medicine since it enabled scientists and physicians to see inside the living body. The technological progress, however, did not stop there, and modern medicine has much more elaborate ways to scan the human body, a major one of which being the nuclear medicine. The specialty enables experts to see an organism on cellular and molecular levels, which is crucial to all the aspects of health care. For instance, it has improved the diagnosis of diseases at an early stage and allowed for the development of more effective therapies. Nuclear medicine utilizes radioactive tracers in order to assess how the body functions as well as for diagnosing and treating diseases.

Radioactive tracers, or radiopharmaceuticals, consist of carrier molecules, which depend on the purpose of the scan, and are bonded to a radioactive atom. Some molecules are employed to interact with a specific protein or sugar; some consist of the patient’s own cells. For instance, trying to determine the source of an intestinal bleeding, doctors may radiolabel a patient’s red blood cell which will allow them to follow the path of blood. Tracers can be administered to patient’s intravenously, orally, by inhalation or direct injection into an organ.

Nuclear medicine has two major modalities, SPECT and PET scans. Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography involves the injection of a tracer into the patients bloodstream, where it attaches to certain cells or accumulates in a target organ. A specific gamma camera then collects the data and creates 3-D images of the radioactive tracer distribution, which allows obtaining information about organ function and blood flow. Positron Emission Tomography, or PET, scans also employ radio tracers in order to create 3-D images. The major difference between SPECT and PET scans lies in the kind of radiotracers they use. While the former employ gamma rays, the latter utilize radioactive atoms with a short decay time. Scanners then detect the gamma rays that are emitted when a positron, produced by a radioactive atom, collides with electrons in the body.

As for the health risks, nuclear medicine procedures are considered safe as the amount of radiation the body is subjected to during a scan is the same as a person can receive in a year of normal living. Besides, negative effects are relatively low compared to the potential benefits. The exact dosage is determined by several factors, such as the patient’s body weight, the body part scanned, and the reason for the procedure.

All in all, nuclear medicine is a crucial part of the modern health care system. It has significantly improved the disease diagnosis as it allows seeing the human body on molecular and cellular levels using radioactive tracers. There are two major scanning methods, particularly, SPECT and PET, which employ different types of radiotracers. Although the human body receives some amount of radiation during a scan, it does not hold the candle to the benefits the scan may bring.

References

Fact Sheet: What is Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging? – SNMMI. Snmmi.org. Retrieved 10 August 2017, from http://www.snmmi.org/AboutSNMMI/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=15627

Freudenrich, C. (2017). How Nuclear Medicine Works. Retrieved 10 August 2017, from http://science.howstuffworks.com/nuclear-medicine1.htm

Hine, G. (2013). Instrumentation in Nuclear Medicine. Burlington: Elsevier Science.

Nuclear Medicine. (2016). National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Retrieved 10 August 2017, from https://www.nibib.nih.gov/science-education/science-topics/nuclear- medicine#996

Ziessman, H., O’Malley, J., Thrall, J., & Fahey, F. (2014). Nuclear medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Saunders.

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