Controlled use of radioactive isotopes has improved medical diagnosis and disease treatment. Interventional radiologist are doctors who use radiation to cure diseases. Before, many conditions were treated with very long and disturbing medical operation, but with the technological improvements, many of those conditions can be cured using non-surgical methods with a reduced cost, less pain, shorter hospital stay, and faster recovery time. Tumors used to be treated with surgery and chemotherapy. For example, surgeons are having hard time accessing liver tumor surgically which require them to remove a large portion of the liver. Chemotherapy is very toxic to the liver and sometimes ineffective to some tumors. Interventional radiologist can cure liver tumor by cutting the blood supply needed by the tumor cells to grow by using radiation. This process is called radioembolization. The surgeon inserts a very small radioactive resin beads into the blood vessel supplying the tumor through a fine needle. The resin beads emits radiation that destroys the blood vessels and directly killing the tumor cells around the area of treatment.
Radioactive isotopes emit subatomic particles that can be traced by imaging technology such as the positron emission tomography or PET scanner. PET can detect very low concentration of injected radioactive glucose in the body. Since glucose is the sugar use by cells for energy, PET can detect which body tissue is taking up glucose the most and will show bright hot spots on the images. Cancerous tissues can be detected by PET scanner because cancer cells consume glucose higher than the normal rate to fuel their rapid growth.
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OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology