Unlike X-rays, CT scans and ultrasound, which produce structural pictures of the body, nuclear medicine allows SLUCare physicians to visualize how the body is functioning at the molecular and cellular level. Special cameras track very small amounts of radioactive materials that are injected into the bloodstream, inhaled or swallowed.
The radioactive materials travel to the specific area of the body to be studied, where they give off a small amount of energy that is detected by the cameras. This produces computer images that allow the physician to assess how the body is functioning, while also measuring various chemical and biological processes.
Using this information, SLUCare nuclear medicine specialists are able to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions such as cancer, heart disease, brain disease and more. The amount of radiation in a typical nuclear imaging procedure is comparable to a diagnostic X-ray and is kept within safe limits.
Learn More: How Nuclear Medicine Works
General Nuclear Medicine – Studies for various parts of the body, such as kidneys, thyroid, bone, liver, brain and more.
Nuclear Cardiology – Used to identify abnormal blood flow to the heart to determine the extent of damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack and/or to measure heart function.
Radionuclide Therapy – A type of targeted radiotherapy that’s injected into the body and binds to specific targets on the surface of cancer cells. May be used to cure, mitigate or control tumors, including lymphoma, thyroid, neuroendocrine tumors or bone metastasis.
Pediatric Nuclear Medicine – Studies designed specifically for children to get the highest quality images in the shortest amount of time.
Cancer Imaging – Studies that combine positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) to produce a hybrid image of both anatomy and function. The information helps determine the extent of disease, improves the selection of therapy, monitors response to therapy, and detects recurrence of disease.
Inside the new SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, SLUCare nuclear medicine physicians use state-of-the-art PET and CT scanners to detect and treat diseases. We are one of the only all-digital nuclear medicine divisions in the region. These digital imaging tools not only provide accurate guidance for our physicians, they also deliver a superior patient experience.
These advances streamline care so testing and treatment are less stressful for patients.
Some patients require an overnight hospital stay while receiving treatment. The new SLU Hospital features one room dedicated to nuclear medicine patients. This room is specially designed to control radioactivity, enable thorough cleaning between patient stays, and minimize exposure to nursing staff and other hospitalized patients. This in-patient room offers the highest level of protection in the Midwest: up to 1,000 millicuries.
Investments our nuclear medicine program allow Saint Louis University to offer a nuclear medicine residency and PET/CT fellowship to train future leaders in the field. For patients, that means having an entire team of highly trained physicians looking at scans and developing individualized treatment plans.
It also enables us to provide same-day reporting of test results. Faster results set
a patient’s mind at ease and allow treatment to begin more quickly. Referring physicians
receive timely information about patients to enable streamlined, coordinated care.
Importantly, our nuclear medicine investment also enhances clinical options for patients receiving treatment. By offering higher level technologies and specialized inpatient facilities, SLUCare Nuclear Medicine has an advantage in clinical trials participation. This gives our patients greater access to the latest therapies and innovations.
Today’s nuclear medicine procedures are essential in many medical specialties, from pediatrics to cardiology to psychiatry. New and innovative nuclear medicine treatments that target and pinpoint molecular levels within the body are revolutionizing our understanding of and approach to a range of diseases and conditions.
To schedule a radiology service at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, call 314-257-5555.