In using radiopharmaceuticals for diagnosis, a radioactive dose is given to the patient and the activity in the organ can then be studied either as a two dimensional picture or, using tomography, as a three dimensional picture.
However, the main radioisotopes such as Tc-99m cannot effectively be produced without reactors.* Radioisotopes are an essential part of medical diagnostic procedures.In combination with imaging devices which register the gamma rays emitted from within, they can study the dynamic processes taking place in various parts of the body.In developed countries (26% of world population) the frequency of diagnostic nuclear medicine is 1.9% per year, and the frequency of therapy with radioisotopes is about one-tenth of this.In the USA there are over 20 million nuclear medicine procedures per year, and in Europe about 10 million.Nuclear medicine was developed in the 1950s by physicians with an endocrine emphasis, initially using iodine-131 to diagnose and then treat thyroid disease.
In recent years specialists have also come from radiology, as dual positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) procedures have become established, increasing the role of accelerators in radioisotope production.
Over 10,000 hospitals worldwide use radioisotopes in medicine, and about 90% of the procedures are for diagnosis.
The most common radioisotope used in diagnosis is technetium-99 (Tc-99), with some 40 million procedures per year, accounting for about 80% of all nuclear medicine procedures worldwide.
It is a very powerful and significant tool which provides unique information on a wide variety of diseases from dementia to cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Positioning of the radiation source within (rather than external to) the body is the fundamental difference between nuclear medicine imaging and other imaging techniques such as X-rays.
The global radioisotope market was valued at .6 billion in 2016, with medical radioisotopes accounting for about 80% of this, and it is poised to reach about billion by 2021.