By Kapou Malakar

Imagine you no more have to get those painful injections. All you have to do is to lie down, let the nuclear rays do the job of detecting and curing the ailment.
This is because nuclear energy is no more a source of energy only. It is on its way of reaching the common people as it is used to detect the cancer and many other ailments. If you didn’t know that, read further.

Nuclear medicine

The clinical discipline concerned with the diagnostic and therapeutic uses of radio nuclides (an isotope of artificial or natural origin that exhibits radioactivity), excluding the therapeutic use of sealed radiation sources.

Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam you are undergoing, the radiotracer is injected into a vein, swallowed by mouth or inhaled as a gas and eventually collects in the area of your body being examined, where it gives off energy in the form of gamma rays. This energy is detected by a device called a gamma camera, a (Positron Emission Tomography) PET scanner and/or probe. These devices work together with a computer to measure the amount of radiotracer absorbed by your body and to produce special pictures offering details on both the structure and function of organs and other internal body parts.
( What is nuclear medicine?

World Health Organization(WHO) has identified Nuclear medicine as a branch within the field of radiology that includes X rays which uses some amount of radioactive material like phosphorous, palladium, cesium, iridium, phosphate, or cobalt.
to diagnose a medical condition.

“The radiation used in nuclear medicine is different from the radiation used in X ray procedure”, says Dr Ishita Barat , a nuclear medicine practitioner at Ganga Ram Hospital .

The best part of the nuclear medicine is that it does not require any skin injections and it is only the nuclear rays that pass through the body.
material is sealed inside a seed or pellet and placed inside the body, in or near a tumor. The radiation material used in comes from radioactive iodine 125, strontium 89, phosphorous, palladium, cesium, iridium, phosphate, or cobalt.


Along with benefits, nuclear medicine has its own share of side effects also. “For pregnant women and children, we actually don’t refer nuclear medicine. They are treated with other available technology like ultrasound, MRI test and so on .” Dr. Barat confirms.
Radiology is the medical imaging technologies to diagnose and sometimes treat diseases. Originally it was the aspect of medical science dealing with the medical use of electromagnetic energy emitted by X-ray machines or other such radiation devices for the purpose of obtaining visual information as part of medical imaging. Radiology that involves use of x-ray is called roentgenology. Modern day radiological imaging is no longer limited to the use of x-rays, and now includes technology-intensive imaging with high frequency sound waves, magnetic fields, and radioactivity.

Moreover, at present, nuclear technology is not cost effective. Most of the equipments required, like imaging detector such as PET camera and gamma camera, are imported from US and are costly. “Even launching such equipment in the hospital means an investment of 10 -12 crores”, says Anil Bharali, retired cardiologist from Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre.

It is an advanced form of medicine mostly used by army and DRDO( Defense and Research Development Organization) since its inception in 1960s.
According to the report of Society of Nuclear Medicine in India, there are nine hospitals in Delhi with a nuclear medicine technology branch. Apart from Army Hospitals we have Escorts Heart Inst. & Research Centre, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, All India Institute of Medical & Hospital Sciences, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital having the same technology .

The Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO) has been responsible for nurturing and spreading the science of nuclear medicine in India, but the exposure of nuclear medicine is still at its nascent stage. No wonder many doctors are in favor of the INDO-US nuclear deal. “Energy and radiation needed for nuclear medicine can be generated from nuclear reactor only. It can be developed if the we can get the energy at a lesser cost”, Dr. Bharali adds