A leap into the 21st century: nuclear medicine
Nuclear medicine is an area of medical care that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and treat various diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine and neurological disorders.
Nuclear medicine procedures are targeted at molecular processes, providing the opportunity for timely diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Patients are referred to nuclear medicine procedures considering justified indications aiming that expected benefit outweighs potential risk. Nuclear medicine procedures are performed for patients of all ages. Procedures are usually performed on outpatient basis, and – if necessary – also on inpatient basis.
Metabolically specific substances (so-called smart molecules) are used in nuclear medicine producers. The smart molecules are tagged with radioactive atoms so they can be tracked. A smart molecule is capable of carrying a radioactive isotope to the disease location. It is important to note that usually the smart molecules are injected into the patient in extremely tiny quantities. This quantity is comparable to one billionth of a sugar cube.
As these are very specific diagnostic and treatment methods, the implementation of nuclear medicine methods is, both in Estonia and other countries, based at specialized centers. In North Estonia Medical Centre the department of nuclear medicine was established in 2002. Since 2003 we also provide service to patients from abroad. Since 2012, the department has PET/CT Centre European accreditation (EANM Research Ltd, EARL).
The nuclear medicine department is outfitted with fully up to date facilities equipment, of which the following are the most significant: a PET/CT hybrid display device, a SPET/CT hybrid display, a “hot lab” and seven individual hospital rooms with all amenities and custom furnishings.
- Diagnostics of benign illnesses:, evaluation of functional status of thyroid and parathyroid, evaluating lung respiration and pulmonary blood supply, evaluating renal function, ascertaining site of infections and haemorrhaging, evaluating dementia and related conditions, early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and distinguishing it from other Parkinsonism syndromes, evaluating blood supply to the heart.
- Cancer diagnostics: detecting tumour tissue body-wide, evaluating cancer therapy’s response on tumours, diagnostics of thyroid cancer, detecting bone metastases and neuroendocrine tumours.
- Treatment: benign and malignant thyroid conditions, bone metastases derived from particular tumours, neuroendocrine tumours.