About Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
What is Medical Imaging?
Medical imaging uses state-of-the-art technology to provide 2- or 3-dimensional images of the living body. Imaging studies can diagnose disease or dysfunction from outside the body, providing information without exploratory surgery or other invasive and possibly dangerous diagnostic techniques.
Radiography uses radiation to produce 2-D images (x-rays) or 3-D scans (CT). 3- images can be manipulated with software to provide views from any angle.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields rather than X-rays to produce 3-D images.
Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of the interior of the body.
Nuclear medicine uses the energy from small amounts of radioactive "tracers" that have been introduced into the body to produce both 2-D and 3D images that reveal biological functioning.
Molecular imaging includes nuclear medicine and expands the tracer principle to include the use of molecules that report on biological function using light or other detectable signals. There are different molecular imaging modalities or technologies, such as:
- Nuclear medicine: PET, PET/CT, SPECT/CT, PET/MR, SPECT
- Magnetic resonance imaging: MR spectroscopy, dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE/MRI), specific cell tracking, MRI with targeted contrast agents (iron oxides–MION/SPIO/USPIO), nanoparticles, and molecularly specific contrast agents
- Ultrasound: targeted contrast agents and tissue-specific microbubble-based agents
- Optical imaging: bioluminescence and imaging with molecularly-targeted optical agents