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Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Week 2019

Posted on: October 11, 2019

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If you have been working as a technologist or is a support service employee for a nuclear medicine department, you are probably aware of what the first full-week in October is. It is when the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) and Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging- Technologist Section (SNMMI-TS) join forces with the nuclear medicine and molecular imaging community to gain recognition and support for this dynamic and evolving medical imaging technology. It is a chance to recognize our colleagues for their hard work and to promote awareness of nuclear medicine to the medical community and the general public. As most of us who work in nuclear medicine are aware, our particular imaging modality is not as well-known as CT or MRI. With new advances within nuclear medicine, we are beginning to see that change.

Before we can understand the direction in which nuclear medicine is going, it’s important to understand where nuclear medicine came from. There is a historical timeline posted on the SNMMI website (www.snmmi.org) which shows some of the important moments in the history of nuclear medicine. I have shared a few significant examples below:

1896 - Henri Becquerel discovered mysterious "rays" from uranium.

1897 - Marie Curie named the mysterious rays "radioactivity."

1936 - John H. Lawrence made the first clinical therapeutic application of an artificial radionuclide when he used phosphorus-32 to treat leukemia.

1938 - John Livingood and Glenn Seaborg discovered iodine-131 and cobalt-60.

1938 - Emilio Segre and Glenn Seaborg discovered technetium-99m.

1951 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved sodium iodide 1-131 for use with thyroid patients. It was the first FDA-approved radiopharmaceutical.

1958 - Hal Anger invented the "scintillation camera," an imaging device that made it possible to conduct dynamic studies.

1962 - David Kuhl introduced emission reconstruction tomography. This method later became known as SPECT and PET. It was extended in radiology to transmission X-ray scanning, known as CT.

1970 - W. Eckelman and P. Richards developed Tc-99m "instant kit" radiopharmaceuticals. The first one was Tc-99m-DTPA.

1973 - H. William Strauss introduced the exercise stress-test myocardial scan. **

1998 - FDG PET studies were used to assess the response of an initial dose of chemotherapy to predict the response to subsequent high-dose chemotherapy.

**I actually had the honor and privilege of working with Dr. Strauss for many years performing nuclear stress tests at MGH in the mid to late 1980’s

As I was reviewing the timeline of important events, it reminded me of the saying, “everything old is new again.” The reason being it was interesting to see how nuclear medicine has come full-circle, from its beginnings in therapy to moving into diagnostic imaging and now back to therapy. Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) (also called radioisotope therapy) is the newest avenue that nuclear medicine is exploring. Theranostics is the new term for combining molecular imaging with molecular therapy. From advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment to recent breakthroughs in Alzheimer's and dementia research, it has never been a better time to be a part of the nuclear medicine and molecular imaging world.

To all of you that work in nuclear medicine and molecular imaging I wish you a Happy Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging week.

If you are a technologist that is looking to work in a nuclear medicine or molecular imaging department, or you are in need of a technologist to fill an opening, please visit www.bartonhealthcarestaffing.com and speak to a Barton Healthcare Staffing agent today!

Susan J. Kelly, BS, CNMT
About Susan J. Kelly, BS, CNMT

Susan has been a certified nuclear medicine technologist since 1985, after receiving her Bachelors of Science in Biology, with a Concentration in Nuclear Medicine Technology from Worcester State University. She began her career as a nuclear medicine technologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and after 15 years shifted to the world of management. Susan is currently the Chief Technologist at New England PET Imaging System, providing PET/CT services in the Merrimack Valley area and southern New Hampshire.