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Nuclear medical examinations generate complete series of high resolution images to assess organ functions (i.e. metabolism). To achieve this, a minimal dose of a radioactive substance (i.e. radiotracer) with short half life is injected. Then, highly sensitive measuring instruments track the spatiotemporal distribution of this substance in the body and compute images reflecting the respective metabolism or function.
Nuclear medicine applies ionizing radiation for diagnostical and therapeutical purposes. Unlike in radiology and radiation therapy, however, no external radiation source (as e.g. X-ray tube) is used, but radioactive substances are administered (so-called radiopharmaceuticals) that are absorbed by the body without changing or harming bodily functions.
By applying different radiopharmaceuticals, different metabolic processes can be measured and made visible. With the help of highly sensitive measuring devices, the metabolic distributions of radiation can be illustrated . Therefore, examination of metabolism and assessment of possible malfunctions are possible.
The examinations are made up of three steps:
- In the preliminary phase, the radioactive substance is custom-made for each examination. It will then mostly be administered intravenously to the patient.
- The technical phase includes scintigraphy, SPECT or PET measuring and image evaluation.
- The final phase is providing medical assessment (written report).
Scintigraphy is the measuring and imaging of radioactively-marked substances (radiopharmaceuticals) in the body using a gamma camera to visualize the organ functions. This is done in static images (e.g. in thyroid scintigraphy), whole-body images (e.g. bone scintigraphy) or serial (dynamic) images (e.g. renal scintigraphy). With the help of scinitigraphy, the metabolic functions of practically all organ systems can be examined.
Depending on the organ to be examined, scintigraphy requires different accumulation times: with bone scintigraphy, it takes approximately two to three hours until the radioactive substance is accumulated predominantly in the skeletal system. With thyroid scintigraphy, it takes only about twenty minutes. With other examinations, e.g. the renal function scintigraphy, imaging begins directly after administering the tracer.
With some examinations, special preparations are necessary. Patients will receive detailed information from the referring doctor as well as when scheduling the appointment with us.
To give an example: Myocardial stresstest which serves to clarify coronary heart disease (CHD), requires a (pharmacological) stress in order to determine whether the blood flow through the myocardium is reduced under stress in certain areas. In cases of known and successfully treated CHD, this examination offers a reliable, non-invasive follow up option.
SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) enables in nuclear medicine, just like computed tomography (CT), the presentation of cross-section images of organ functions in one volume. SPECT can also be combined with radiologically computed tomography (SPECT/CT) to allow for a better spatial correlation.
So-called hybrid imaging, i.e. combining complementing imaging procedures in one device (SPECT/CT and PET/CT), allows to have only one examination process. This opens up completely new possibilities of diagnosis, treatment strategy and therapy monitoring, especially for oncology (PET/CT), but also for orthopedics (skeletal system), cardiology (risk assessment of heart attacks) and much more.
- Neurology (e.g. for Parkinson´s diagnostics)
- Clarification of heart diseases like angina pectoris
- In orthopedics, the combination with CT helps in the diagnostics of e.g. inflammations in the area of bones and joints, disorders in the healing process of fractures or nonspecific bone pain.
- Thyroid gland function tests and therapy.
The Radiology Center offers the following procedures:
- Thyroid gland scintigraphy including uptake measuring (struma, hyperthyroidism)
- Stress myocardial scintigraphy (coronary heart disease)
- Split renal function study (malfunction, obstruction, high blood pressure)
- Sentinel lymph nodes (prior to surgery preparation for melanoma and breast cancer)
- Bone scintigraphy (staging of bone metastases, inflammations, loosening of protheses)
- Brain perfusion scintigraphy (dementia, stroke risk)
- Brain receptor scintigraphy (Parkinson´s) movement disorder
- Parathyroid scintigraphy (preoperative localization)
- Iodine whole-body scintigraphy (thyroid carcinoma)
Thyroid gland diagnostics and thyroid gland therapy including in-vitro diagnostics and scintigraphy
It has been a long tradition in Austria that patients suffering from thyroid diseases are attended by a specialist in nuclear medicine. This goes back to the well-known internist Prof. Dr. Karl Fellinger, who was a co-founder of the Austrian Society of Nuclear Medicine in 1967. It has the advantage that the specialist in nuclear medicine can handle all diagnostic procedures necessary as well as a major part of the therapeutical concepts (except surgical interventions). The Radiology Center features a nuclear medical thyroid gland service specializing in patients with thyroid diseases. Here, we examine thyroid gland nodes with the help of ultrasound targeted fine needle puncture and after-care for patients with thyroid carcinoma.
DEXA Bone Density Measuring
In bone density measuring, the mineral salt content of the bones is determined by means of X-rays. The examination is carried out with the patient lying down, it is painfree and radiation exposure is extremely low. The lower the content of mineral salt, the higher the risk of bone fractures due to osteoporosis.
Medical background of bone density measuring: osteoporosis is one of the most frequent metabolic diseases of the skeletal system. Increased bone degradation leads to loss of material which in turn weakens the bone. Weak bones can bear less weight and are therefore more prone to fracture. Mostly women after menopause are affected by this disease which goes unnoticed in the beginning. Frequently, it is diagnosed – too late – when an unexpected bone fracture is treated (e.g. femoral neck fracture).
Bone density measurement together with other diagnostic findings (e.g.laboratory examinations concerning kidney function, parathyroid function, etc.) will form the basis for recommended therapies.
Just give the RC-nuclear medicine team a call!
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