Comic series sometimes invariably highlights real life situation or enhances and capture human emotions and capabilities that glued the readers to every graphic details their heroes displayed. Sometimes a myth and fiction in the 7o’s becomes a science and a way of life in the 90’s. The radioactive spider the bit Peter Parker becomes a science of genomics and pharmacogenetics of today, the gamma ray that hits Bruce Banner becomes the life science of nuclear medicine.
Nuclear Medicine is a branch of medicine that utilizes radioactivity in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The principle of this science is putting appropriate radioactive material thru the patient’s body and let the organs metabolized it. Gamma ray is released by this radioactive material and captured by a gamma camera and translate it into pictures. By imaging you organs metabolism, physician can predict its function and track patience progress. Physiologic changes comes first in the cascade of diseases or recovery, hence early detection means early treatment and lowers possibility of unlikely outcome.
We are and most of the time afraid of what nuclear reaction would entail. Like for example in the movies where Godzilla was created due to nuclear testing in the pacific or in the “terminator” series in which the future is decimated by nuclear holocaust. It is indeed that therapeutic nuclear medicine creates and decimate cancer cells but in a molecule level. It is targeted approach in which only the specific cancer cells are killed like in the thyroid cancer, metastatic liver and lymphoma. And the art of it all, early diagnosis and precise treatment, and that is the medicine component.
Sensitivity and accuracy are the keynotes in nuclear medicines diagnostics. Radioimmunoassay can determine concentration in a nanogram level, hence it is a preferred technique for you thyroid function (FT3, FT4,TSH) and thyroid cancer surveillance (TG and anti-TG) test. Heliprobe (urea breath test ) is an accurate (>95%) test in determining H. pyloi infection that causes gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. Physiologic organ imaging like bone scan detect early bone mestasis; bone densitometry that diagnosed osteoporosis, or cardiac scan that diagnosed coronary artery disease and prognosticate coronary events. These are few of the procedures done in a Nuclear Medicine Clinic that will help your clinician manage you better, clearer.
The notion of nuclear in the field of medicine is somewhat unclear in the case of science for the public perception. It is wquated as a vast energy that kills or mutate lizard into enormous Gozilla monster. For us nuclear medicine physician, it is the sunrise in molecular imaging or dawn in personalized medicine. We don’t see green Hulk running around or Spiderman swinging our busy streets. What we see is patients spending more time with their family because the nuclear medicine works. It is clear as the blue sky.
ALVIN QUINON, MD FPSNM CCD