Leading-Edge Care

Nuclear Medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses tiny amounts of radioactive materials to diagnosis and treat a variety of diseases, including some types of cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine and neurological disorders.


The Division provides most of the diagnostic studies currently used in the field and routinely performs imaging related to the following conditions or organs:

  • Brain
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Lungs (ventilation and perfusion)
  • Thyroid
  • Parathyroid
  • Liver
  • Biliary system
  • Kidneys
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Testicular torsion
  • Infection
  • Patency of CSF shunts
  • Levine shunts
  • Lymphatic system
  • Adrenal glands

Additional tests and therapies performed as part of the Nuclear Medicine Division include:

  • Gastrointestinal function testing for gastroesophageal reflux, gastric emptying of both solid and liquid meals, esophageal transit time, and gallbladder ejection fraction
  • Thyroid uptake
  • Global renal function evaluation, including glomerular filtration rate
  • Iodine-131 therapy for hyperthyroidism and thyroid carcinoma

Cardiac Studies

Our Comprehensive Cardiac Program performs all types of cardiac studies, including quantitative thallium scans and gated blood pool scans to determine cardiac ejection fraction and wall motion. The Division has had extensive experience using Persantine, along with thallium imaging, for detecting coronary artery disease.

Precision Medicine: Guided Cancer Therapy

Precision medicine is an emerging form of disease diagnosis and prevention that uncovers genetic mutations within a patient’s own cancer that can allow for a more targeted, customized treatment. The use of Precision Medicine has the potential to spare some individuals the costs and side effects of other therapies from which they would not benefit, based on their unique, genetic makeup.

The Nuclear Medicine Imaging and Therapy Division plays a critical role in delivering Precision Medicine through:

  • The ability to measure cancer metabolism
  • Imaging of glutamine and glutamine metabolism
  • Imaging proliferation rate of cancer
  • The ability to image estrogen receptors in breast cancer patients

The applications of Precision Medicine continue to grow and research developments within clinical molecular imaging continue to play a role in broadening this targeted medicine to benefit of other diseases such as metabolic disorders and neurologic diseases.

Advanced Nuclear Medicine and SPECT Imaging

Nuclear Medicine is an integral part of non-invasive imaging within the radiology department. A small amount of radioactive material is safely injected, ingested, or inhaled to assess many conditions and organs such as cancer, stomach, thyroid, heart, and neurological disorders. Special cameras capture energy given off by the radioactive materials, forming an image of the inside of the body. Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) is a type of nuclear imaging test that may provide additional information on the condition being evaluated.

Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography

Positron Emission Tomography/computed tomography, or PET/CT, utilizes an injection of a small amount of a special kind of radioactive material, called a positron emitter, to make 3D images of the body. PET/CT is particularly useful in detecting and staging many types of cancers, as well as assessing heart problems. A low-dose CT (or “CAT Scan”) is performed in conjunction with a PET scan to make an image that provides both the structure and function of the body.

In This Section

Nuclear Medicine Imaging and Therapy Team

The Penn Nuclear Medicine Imaging and Therapy team works together to offer you the best possible options for your radiological care.

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