Dramatic improvements in gamma cameras, computers, and radiopharmaceuticals have occurred in recent years. These improvements have permitted the development of safe, accurate, and quantitative radionuclide diagnostic methods that are applicable to pediatric patients. The use of these procedures in pediatric patients is increasing because they provide unique information in a relatively simple, rapid, and/or convenient way.

Although most of the procedures in common use in nuclear medicine rely on imaging, it is very important to emphasize the chemical and physiologic nature of this field. Radionuclide methodology has the capability of conceptualizing abnormality even before it results in anatomic abnormality which can then be visualized by imaging techniques that rely on morphology.

The newer methods in nuclear medicine tend to be quantitative as well as qualitative and they require newer and more sophisticated computerized gamma camera systems.

Diagnostic methods in nuclear medicine require the administration of a radiopharmaceutical, most frequently intravenously. In some instances, the material is given orally. A gamma scintillation camera is positioned over or under the patient's body and focuses on the area to be studied. Gamma scintillation cameras are image converters which record the spatial distribution of radiopharmaceuticals in the body. The camera is connected to a specialized digital computer system which allows digital display and numerical analysis.

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