Even though the nuclear medicine community is unfamiliar to many people outside of the medical field, it is a commonly used modality to image virtually every part of the body. There are many interesting facts about this field. I’m going to tell you about 5 of my favorite facts.
Nuclear medicine imaging is one of the safest imaging modalities in diagnostic testing. In a previous blog article, a doctor in the Cincinnati Children’s Radiology Department, Dr. Michael Gelfand discussed dose reduction. He referenced a survey from 2008 of children’s hospitals in North America that showed that there was a wide range of dose levels used at different children’s hospitals. The doses that were used at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital were found to be lower than those used at the other US and Canadian children’s hospitals. Dr. Gelfand, led the effort that set guidelines for new lower standard radioactive drug doses, which were then adopted by ten of 13 major children’s hospitals across North America.
The nuclear medicine field is very small. In the United States, there are around 14,000 certified nuclear medicine technologists. Even more exclusive are the board certified nuclear medicine physicians at around 4000. There are programs where you can get an associates degree with a certificate in nuclear medicine. Many hospitals nationwide prefer or require a technologist with a bachelor degree and a national board certification. The physicians attend medical school and complete several years of residency and fellowship.
In diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine is unique. While other modalities like CT, ultrasound, and MRI focus on anatomical data, nuclear medicine uses the physiology or function and structure of the body and it’s organs.
At the beginning of this article, I stated that nuclear medicine was a commonly used modality in imaging. This includes diagnostic and therapeutic. Approximately 10 to 12 million of these procedures are performed each year in the US!
The last interesting fact about nuclear medicine is specific to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The staff is almost entirely female with the exception of the manager and a couple of physicians. We all have our bachelor’s degree in advanced medical imaging and are nationally board certified. We have worked together as a team for several years and created a fun and professional atmosphere.