Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging performs non-invasive, painless imaging tests that can reveal important information about your child's health.
Nuclear medicine uses short-lived radiopharmaceuticals and specialized cameras to create images of the human body. The images show blood flow and functional and metabolic activity within organs and lesions. This technology allows early diagnosis and monitoring of disease and can often make invasive procedures unnecessary. It also complements information obtained from X-rays, computed tomography (CT), ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Some applications of nuclear medicine are used for treatment of certain specific diseases.
Our nuclear medicine physicians, physicists, technologists and nurses oversee thousands of procedures each year in a safe, comfortable and child-friendly atmosphere. Our child life specialist is available to help you and your child before, during, and after the visit.
- Kids! Our comprehensive program includes the full range of nuclear medicine procedures and has the only PET scanner in New England dedicated to pediatric use. Our entire staff is highly trained and experienced in pediatric nuclear medicine and our physicians are certified by the American Board of Nuclear Medicine. They--along with our physicists and technologists--are leaders in the Society of Nuclear Medicine.
- Image fusion: We are one of the few pediatric nuclear medicine programs nationwide that is routinely capable of electronically fusing nuclear medicine studies with images obtained from CT or MRI. In many cases, this gives a more complete assessment of the problems being investigated.
- Safety: Because nuclear medicine procedures involve small amounts of radiation, we are committed to ensuring that your child receives the lowest possible dose needed to obtain the high-quality images needed for accurate diagnosis and treatment. Our physicians, technologists, and physicists are leaders in adjusting equipment and procedures to deliver low doses appropriate to children.
- Advanced radiation treatment for rare cancer: Nuclear medicine physicians and scientists are an integral part of the Dana-Farber/Children's Cancer Care team's MIBG treatment for children with relapsed neuroblastoma (cancerous tumors that originate in the nerve tissues). The treatment, which uses a radioactive compound to kill tumor cells, is available in only a handful of major medical centers in North America and is the first therapy of its kind to be offered in New England.
Focus on safety
Your child will be exposed to a very small amount of radiation that is within the lower range of what is received from routine diagnostic imaging procedures that use X-rays. Nuclear medicine has been used on babies and children for more than 40 years with no known adverse effects from the low doses employed.
The radiation exposure received during a nuclear medicine study comes from the radiotracer, which travels to the body part of interest and can be seen by special cameras. We are committed to ensuring that your child receives the smallest radiation dose needed to obtain the desired result. It is important to balance the medical benefits of any imaging test with the potential radiation risks.
Our physicians, technologists, and physicists have acted as leaders in adjusting equipment and procedures to deliver the lowest possible dose to young patients. The Nuclear Medicine physicians and technologists at Boston Children's Hospital follow the ALARA principle (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) to determine the appropriate dose for your child.
In addition, the Image Gently Campaign and the Pediatric Imaging Council of the Society of Nuclear Medicineare promoting ways and means to achieve the lowest radiation exposures while maintaining high image quality. We helped develop Image Gently guidelines so hospitals across the country can minimize children's exposure to radiation during medical procedures. One of our Nuclear Medicine physicians created a brochure for parents that is available on the Image Gently website. You can download it here.
Read about the hospital's commitment to radiation safety.
Frederic Fahey, DSc
Nuclear Medicine/PET Physics
Frederic Fahey, DSc assumed office as the 2012-13 president of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) during its annual meeting in June. "Since joining SNM in 1981 as a graduate student, I have witnessed the incredible evolution in the field of nuclear medicine," says Fahey. "I have come to realize that education is one of the most critical activities of SNM to further the goals of professional development, public advocacy and scientific advancement." Read more.