Jacqueline Swafford-Thistle has more than 25 years’ experience as a highly skilled nuclear medicine technologist. Jacqueline Swafford-Thistle previously taught at the Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, Massachusetts, as a clinical instructor of nuclear medicine.
Highly reliant on the process of radioactive decay, nuclear medicine uses tiny amounts of radioactive substances to diagnose and treat diseases. Nuclear medicine creates radiopharmaceuticals by combining radioactive isotopes with other elements or existing pharmaceuticals. These radiopharmaceuticals are administered to a patient either intravenously or orally. Once inside the body, the radioactive elements begin to break down and emit radiation, which is then absorbed by surrounding tissues and organs. The radiation absorbed during a nuclear medicine procedure is measured with specialized imaging equipment that displays the activity and functioning of tissues, organs, and tumors in the targeted area.
Physicians in a variety of medical specialties use nuclear medical techniques to diagnose and treat a range of conditions, including cardiovascular problems, tumors, aneurysms, and blood cell disorders. In some cases, these techniques are able to identify problems much earlier than other diagnostic tests.