To destroy brain cancers and other problems, medical scientists sometimes use a "gamma ray knife. Because each beam is relatively small, it does little damage to healthy brain tissue. But where they are focused, the amount of radiation is intense enough to kill the cancer cells.
Since brains are delicate, the gamma ray knife is a relatively safe way to do certain kinds of surgery that would be a challenge with ordinary scalpels. French chemist Paul Villard first identified gamma rays in from the element radium, which had been isolated by Marie and Pierre Curie just two years before. When scientists first studied how atomic nuclei changed form, they identified three types of radiation based on how far they penetrated into a barrier made of lead. Ernest Rutherford named the radiation for the first three letters of the Greek alphabet. Alpha rays bounce right off, beta rays went a little farther, and gamma rays went the farthest.
Today we know alpha rays are the same thing as helium nuclei two protons and two neutrons , beta rays are either electrons or positrons their antimatter versions , and gamma rays are a kind of light. When an unstable uranium nucleus splits in the process of nuclear fission, it releases a lot of gamma rays in the process. Fission is used in both nuclear reactors and nuclear warheads. To monitor nuclear tests in the s, the United States launched gamma radiation detectors on satellites.
They found far more explosions than they expected to see. Astronomers eventually realized these explosions were coming from deep space—not the Soviet Union—and named them gamma-ray bursts, or GRBs. To put this in perspective, the U. Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates that the average American absorbs mrem a year. About half of that yearly dose comes from natural "background radiation" constantly present in the environment and raining on us from outer space.
Higher elevations are hit with more cosmic rays because there is less atmosphere above them to deflect the constant blow of background radiation. Similarly, flying in a plane exposes people to a higher dose of radiation than if they'd traveled by car. The backscatter X-ray technology being introduced at Transportation Security Administration stations in airports across the country gives off a dose of 10 microrem mcg , or 0. So while you're in the plane that's flying cross-country, you're receiving between 2, and 5, times as much cosmic radiation as you were subjectedto in order to board the plane.
According to Food and Drug Administration standards, no individual who is scanned before flight s is allowed to receive more than 25 mrem in a month period. But there's little chance anyone, even a pilot, would reach that threshold: Doing so would take 25, scans in one year. The determination of the location of a tumor, disease or other morbid process.
Low dose rate LDR brachytherapy A radiation therapy treatment for cancer that involves the placement of a radioactive material directly inside the body, in or near a tumor, for a specific amount of time and then withdrawn.
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In LDR brachytherapy, the patient is treated with a low dose of radiation for hours at a time. A minimally invasive diagnostic test that involves the removal of a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid —the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord—or an injection of medication or another substance into the lumbar or lower region of the spinal column. Lumpectomy generally refers to the removal of a lump from the breast as an alternative to mastectomy, which is the removal of the entire breast including the lump.
As a rule, the right lung is slightly larger than the left and is divided into three lobes an upper, a middle, and a lower , while the left has but two lobes an upper and a lower. Each lung is irregularly conical in shape, presenting a blunt upper extremity the apex , a concave base following the curve of the diaphragm, an outer convex surface following the inner curve of the ribs, an inner or mediastinal surface, a thin and sharp anterior border, and a thick and rounded posterior border.
This surgery is only used for those with severe emphysema. Lymph consists of a clear liquid portion, varying numbers of white blood cells chiefly lymphocytes , and a few red blood cells. This procedure has been replaced by lymphoscintigraphy. The two major subgroups of lymphocytes are: B cells that produce antibodies and T cells that destroy disease-causing pathogens. See the Lymphoscintigraphy page for more information. For details see the MR Angiography page. See the MRCP page for additional information.
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Malignant is also less commonly used to describe other medical conditions that are severe and becoming progressively worse. Ultrasound and magnetic resonance may also be used to image the breast. For details see the Mammography page.
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A small amount of healthy tissue surrounding a tumor that may be surgically removed with diseased tissue. This space is mostly occupied by the heart and its major blood vessels, and by the trachea and esophagus. They oversee the work of the dosimetrist and help ensure that complex treatments are properly tailored for each patient. Qualified medical physicists are responsible for developing and directing quality control programs for equipment and procedures. They are responsible for making sure the equipment works properly.
Medical radiation physicists take precise measurements of radiation beam characteristics and do other safety tests on a regular basis.
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Qualified medical physicists have doctorates or master's degrees. Qualified medical physicists have completed four years of college, two to four years of graduate school and typically one to two years of clinical physics training. Women typically experience menstruation also called a period on a monthly basis throughout their sexually reproductive years, from puberty until menopause, except when pregnant or breastfeeding.
Metformin See Glucophage. Unlike a standard intravenous catheter IV which is for short term use, a vascular access catheter is more durable and does not easily become blocked or infected. The midline catheter is inches in length. MCI is considered a transitional state between normal forgetfulness and dementia. Common examples of minimally invasive procedures would be stereotactic breast biopsy, heart catheterization or temporary placement of an implanted port for chemotherapy.
Monoclonal antibodies mimic the antibodies naturally produced by the body's immune system that attack invading foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses. When combined with a chemotherapy drug or radioactive material , monoclonal antibodies are able to deliver the cancer-killing agent directly to the cancer cell. MR enterography A special type of magnetic resonance imaging MRI performed with a contrast material to produce detailed images of the small intestine. This diagnostic imaging technique measures the concentration of metabolites, which are produced by chemical reactions in the brain and other areas of the body, and displays the results as a graph.
The peaks in the graph represent various metabolites. The concentration of these metabolites can be altered by many diseases, including tumor, infections and trauma. Mucous helps protect and lubricate surfaces within the body. Its purpose is to identify spinal lesions caused by disease or injury. See the Myelography page for more information.
Multiple myeloma is an uncommon cancer of the white blood cells in the bone marrow that is associated with anemia, hemorrhage, recurrent infections, and weakness. If blood flow is not quickly restored, the section of the heart wall involved may begin to die. Although these tumors are not cancerous, they may cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pain in the pelvic region and pressure on the bladder or bowel. It has existed since the beginning of time and is an integral part of the universe in which we live.
Life as we know it on earth has evolved in the presence of radiation. Radiation comes to us from many sources both natural and man-made. These sources include cosmic radiation from outer space, radiation from the soil and buildings, and natural isotopes in our own bodies. Cosmic radiation and terrestrial radiation vary with location. The procedure is used primarily to obtain cells from a lesion containing fluid. There are two types of needle electrodes: a simple straight needle; and a straight, hollow needle that contains several retractable electrodes that extend when needed.
Needle electrodes may also be a part of devices that monitor electrical activity for diagnostic purposes such as in the performance of electromyography and nerve conduction studies. Neoplasms show partial or complete lack of structural organization and functional coordination with the normal tissue, and usually form a distinct mass of tissue, which may be either benign benign tumor or malignant cancer. It causes a thickening of the skin, organs and other tissues. Threadlike extensions from a nerve cell. A specialized cell in the brain and nervous system that receives and sends electrical impulses through networks of connections.
A lump can be benign or malignant. Examples include CT and MR scanning and ultrasound. NSAID A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that reduces swelling and pain, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Certain imaging procedures, including PET scanning, employ radionuclides to provide real-time visuals of biochemical processes.
One device, a nuclear imaging machine, employs a scintillation camera, which can rotate around the body to pick up radiation emitted by an injected substance e. A digitized image of a particular organ, or the whole body, is produced. The nucleus is filled with a soft, rubber-like material. Osteoporosis is primarily classified as an age-related decline in bone mineral density. Secondary osteoporosis results from an identifiable disease for example, diseases of the parathyroid glands, or, for instance, certain medications. See the Osteoporosis page for additional information.
Paget disease A genetic or viral condition characterized by excessive breakdown and formation of bone tissue that can lead to enlarged or misshapen bones. The pancreas also secretes hormones, most importantly insulin, into the blood to regulate metabolism of the body. For x-ray pancreatography, the examination requires direct injection of contrast material into the pancreatic ducts. For MRI, pancreatography is performed without a direct contrast material injection, however an intravenous injection of contrast material may be used. Pap test Also known as Pap smear.
They are named the frontal, maxillary, ethmoid, and sphenoid sinuses. Protons can pass through healthy tissue without damaging it. See the Proton Therapy page for more information. They are used in embolization procedures to stop bleeding or block arteries that provide blood flow to a tumor. Arterial disease that occurs outside of the heart or brain in which arteries in the extremities legs and arms become narrowed or blocked, usually as a result of atherosclerosis or plaque.
The most common form of PAD affects the large vessels supplying the legs, which can cause severe pain on walking and may in time make a patient immobile. See the Peripheral Artery Disease page for more information. Unlike a standard intravenous catheter IV which is for short term use, a PICC is more durable and does not easily become blocked or infected. The space within the peritoneum not occupied by the abdominal organs. In most circumstances, this space is empty and the cavity is collapsed. In certain disease, this space can become filled with fluid.
In other circumstances, this space may be intentionally inflated with carbon dioxide for laparoscopic surgery, or with a sterile solution for peritoneal dialysis. The port has a silicone rubber top that can be penetrated by a needle and an attached catheter that is designed to hang down into the abdominal or peritoneal cavity. A type of seizure or convulsion often associated with epilepsy in which the patient stares into space for a short period of time. Picture Archiving and Communication System PACS A computer system for acquiring, storing, viewing, and managing digital medical imaging studies and related information.
They bind at the site of a wound to begin the clotting process. Using imaging guidance, the coils are placed at the site of an aneurysm or fistula to help block the flow of blood or prevent a rupture of the vessel. The cavity that exists between the lungs and underneath the chest wall. It is normally empty, with the lung immediately against the inside of the chest wall. In some diseases, fluid can build up in this space a pleural effusion. In trauma, air can enter this space a pneumothorax.
Under either condition, excessive fluid or air in the pleural space can cause difficulty breathing since the lung is prevented from inflating fully. See the Pneumonia page for more information.
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It occurs during heart or lung surgery or as a result of a trauma such as a gunshot or stab wound to the chest, but also may occur spontaneously, particularly with violent coughing. The main vein that carries blood from the digestive tract to the liver. Port-o-cath Manufacturer's name. By identifying body changes at the cellular level, PET may detect the early onset of disease before it is evident on other imaging tests. Power Doppler is more sensitive than color Doppler for the detection and demonstration of blood flow, but provides no information about the direction of flow.
Color and spectral Doppler both reveal the direction of blood flow which can be valuable information. Primary headaches, which include cluster, migraine and tension headaches, are not associated with a medical condition or disease. See also tumor. A device or agent used to detect or explore a substance; e. To enter and explore, as with a probe. The prostate, part of the male reproductive system, makes some of the milky fluid called semen that carries sperm. Higher levels of PSA in the blood are sometimes — but not always — indicative of prostate cancer.
The U. Department of Health and Human Services HHS defines all of the following as individually identifiable health information:. The scientific unit of measurement for the amount of radiant energy absorbed in a certain amount of tissue. They develop and prescribe each cancer patient's treatment plan, they make sure that every treatment is accurately given, and they monitor the patient's progress and adjust treatment to make sure patients get quality care throughout treatment.
Radiation oncologists also help identify and treat any side effects of radiation therapy and work closely with all members of the radiation oncology team. Radiation oncologists have completed four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of general medical internship, then four years of residency specialty training in radiation oncology. They have extensive training in the safe use of radiation to treat disease. If they pass a special examination, they are certified by the American Board of Radiology.
Patients should ask if their doctor is board certified. The study and use of x-rays or radionuclides to treat abnormal tissue growths malignant or nonmalignant. They help evaluate the patient before treatment begins and talk to the patient about their treatment, the potential side effects and their management. During the course of radiation treatments patients may be evaluated weekly, or more frequently by the nurse to assess problems and concerns.
Radiation oncology nurses are registered nurses. Most nurses in radiation therapy have additional accreditation in the specialty of oncology nursing. Advanced practice nurses in oncology, which include clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners, have completed a master's degree program.
They administer the daily radiation treatment under the doctor's prescription and supervision, maintain daily records and regularly check the treatment machines to make sure they are working properly. Radiation therapists go through a two-to-four year educational program following high school or college, then take a special examination and must be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. In addition, many states require that radiation therapists be licensed.
Radiation Units There are a number of units to measure radiation dose and exposure: rad or radiation absorbed dose The amount of radiant energy absorbed in a certain amount of tissue. The unit is named for the British physician L. Harold Gray , an authority on the use of radiation in the treatment of cancer. The radiation quantity measured by the rem is called equivalent dose. Roentgens are named after Professor Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen, the man who discovered x-rays in The radiation quantity measured by the sievert is called effective dose.
A radioactive isotope created from iodine to emit radiation for medical use. See also radioactive iodine therapy. The use of radioactive iodine I to treat an overactive thyroid , a condition called hyperthyroidism. As used in the brachytherapy treatment of cancer, a radioactive material is sealed inside a seed or pellet and placed inside the body, in or near a tumor. The radiation material used in brachytherapy comes from radioactive iodine , strontium 89, phosphorous, palladium, cesium, iridium, phosphate, or cobalt. Radiodense markers are made from materials that cannot be penetrated by x-rays or any other form of radiation.
During a bone scan, a small amount of radioactive material is injected into the body and collects in the bones. The scientific discipline of medical imaging using ionizing radiation , radionuclides, nuclear magnetic resonance, and ultrasound.
Radiology Information System RIS A special case of a hospital information system HIS tailored to radiological imaging, containing information such as imaging examination orders, schedules on imaging modalities, imaging device parameters, billing codes and information. Radionuclides serve as agents in nuclear medicine and genetic engineering, play a role in computer imaging for diagnosis and experiment, and account for a percentage of background radiation to which humans are exposed.
In cancer therapy, radionuclides are used to destroy tumors.
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Also called a radiotracer. Radon ingestion or inhalation can cause health problems e. It can cause wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and difficulty breathing. This includes patients with asthma. Cells found in the blood that contain hemoglobin and carry oxygen to and carbon dioxide from body tissues. Reed-Sternberg cell A cell that distinguishes diseased tissue as Hodgkin lymphoma.
In the male, this consists of the testes, penis, seminal vesicles, prostate, and urethra. In the female, this consists of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, vagina, and vulva. The image, record, or data obtained by scanning, usually identified by the technology or device employed; e. Abbreviated form of scintiscan scintigram , usually identified by the organ or structure examined; e. Liquid chemicals or alcohols used to destroy blood vessels in an embolization procedure.
Sclerosing damages the inner lining of a vessel and causes blood clots a thickened mass of blood to form, thus preventing blood flow through the vessel. Secondary headaches are caused by an injury or underlying illness, such as bleeding in the brain, an infection or a brain tumor. Symptoms include bone and joint pain. Patients will be able to breathe on their own and in many cases will receive oxygen from a face mask. See sedation, minimal and moderate. Patient is able to breathe independently during a surgical or medical procedure. See sedation, deep. Guidance is provided by specially trained radiology or other medical personnel.
This condition may be achieved via distraction techniques or self-hypnotic relaxation.