Nuclear medicine refers to medicine (a pharmaceutical) that is attached to a small quantity of radioactive materials (a radioisotope). This combination is called a radiopharmaceutical. There are many different radiopharmaceuticals available to study different parts of the body. Which radiopharmaceutical is used will depend upon the condition to be diagnosed or treated.
Nuclear medicine procedures permit the determination of medical information that may otherwise be unavailable, require surgery, or necessitate more expensive and invasive diagnostic tests. The procedures often identify abnormalities very early in the progression of a disease- long before some medical problems are apparent with other diagnostic tests. This early detection allows a disease to be treated sooner in its course when a more successful prognosis may be possible.