Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics

The UAB Division of Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics (MIT), within the Department of Radiology and formerly known as the Division of Nuclear Medicine, uses a variety of techniques to diagnose, evaluate, and in some cases treat certain diseases. Its processes use small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose many types of cancer, heart disease, gastrointestinal and endocrine problems, neurological disorders, and other abnormalities within the body. These types of imaging tests are able to see activity within the body at the cellular level, so in many cases they can identify disease in its earliest stages and assess a patient’s immediate response to various therapies. Certain types of radiation are also used to treat cancer and other medical conditions affecting the thyroid gland.

These tests are usually painless and harmless to the patient. The radioactive material may be injected into the body, swallowed, or inhaled as a gas, and it accumulates in the organ or area of the body being examined. Radioactive emissions from the material can then be detected by a special camera or imaging device that produces pictures and provides important medical information. The results of these tests often are combined with computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce special views, leading to more precise information and more accurate diagnoses. More recent technology allows multiple types of scans to be performed at the same time.

UAB’s newly renovated Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics (MIT) suite offers open, airy waiting areas and serene, private exam rooms designed to improve the overall patient experience, reduce exam stress, and increase efficiency for staff. Two of its cameras boast a new technology known as SPECT-CT, which provides faster, more detailed images using much lower doses of radiation. Scans from these cameras fuse nuclear medicine SPECT images with high-quality, low radiation CT scans to provide tremendous detail. These cameras have proven useful in detecting bone fractures and tumors as well as parathyroid adenoma, cardiac stress testing, and tumor imaging. By combining the two types of scans, patient exams are more sensitive for disease and more specific yet can be completed faster.

Targeted radiotherapy services continue to expand at the MIT suite. Facilities are available to help patients undergoing targeted radiotherapy for thyroid cancer, prostate cancer bone metastases, and radioembolization of liver cancer and metastases.

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