Radionuclides Used in Nuclear Medicine
Radionuclides (also called radioisotopes) are chemical elements that are radioactive. The nucleus of an unstable radionuclide becomes stable by emitting energy, such as alpha or beta particles. The nucleus may also emit energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation known as gamma rays. Although radionuclides can be found in nature, all radionuclides used in nuclear medicine are produced in linear accelerators, cyclotrons, or nuclear reactors. Each radionuclide has unique properties that make it useful for certain diagnostic and therapeutic tools. The table summarizes commonly used radionuclides for imaging and therapy.
Commonly Used Radionuclides for Imaging and Therapy
unique partnership among the national laboratories, academia, and industry (Section 2.1). They have collaborated to develop:
nuclear reactors and particle accelerators that produce radionuclides;
chemical processes to synthesize radiopharmaceuticals that can be used for imaging and treatment; and
instruments that can detect radiation emitted from the radionuclides that accumulate in the human body.
According to data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), nuclear medicine plays an essential role in medical specialties from cardiology to oncology to neurology and psychiatry and is a $1.7 billion industry. The Society of Nuclear Medicine estimates that 20 million nuclear