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The Use of Isotopes in Medicine - Essay Example

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THE USE OF ISOTOPES IN MEDICINE Instructor Institution Date An isotope is a term used to refer to the forms of an element. Elements would have either two or more forms or isotopes. These isotopes are characterized by a nucleus with the same quantity of protons…
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The Use of Isotopes in Medicine
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Download file to see previous pages These are the radioactive and stable isotopes. Bodamer and Halliday (2001, p. 444) define radioactive isotopes as those whose nucleus is unstable. Because of this, radioactive isotopes have a tendency for spontaneous decomposition, a reaction which involves the release of radiation. During the decomposition of a radioactive isotope, a helium nucleus is released, a process which leads to the stabilization of the isotope. On the other hand, a stable isotope does not have a tendency for spontaneous decomposition and as a result, these isotopes resist various forms of chemical alterations. Radioactive have been used widely used in medicine as agents of diagnostic processes. This essay gives a critical analysis ad discussion of the various uses or applications of isotopes in the field of medicine. Many chemical elements contain isotopes. Radioisotopes are often products of artificial combination of protons and neutrons. Artificial production of radioisotopes often employs protons and neutrons which do not exist in nature (Ruth, 2009, p. 536). There are a total of 1800 radioisotopes including those which arise from the decay of thorium and uranium in their primordial states. There are a variety of ways in which radioisotopes can be produced or manufactured artificially. These include neutron activation which is the commonest way of producing radioisotopes. This is done within a nuclear reactor. In addition, some radioisotopes are produced within a cyclotron in which deficiency of neutrons within a nucleus is achieved through artificial introduction of protons (Bodamer and Halliday (2001, p. 445). The artificial manufacture of radioisotopes is aimed at meeting their application in medicine. The radioisotopes used in medicine are known as radiopharmaceuticals. The following section describes three major applications of radioisotopes in medicines with the justification on why specific radioisotopes are used in the management of various medical processes. The disadvantages associate with the use of isotopes is also provided later in the essay. According to Ruth (2009, p. 537), isotopes are used in nuclear medicine to provide diagnostic information which is used by physicians to diagnose various medical conditions. This is achieved through the imaging of organs such as bones, thyroid gland, liver and heart to determine their functioning. Prvulovich and Bomanji (1998, p. 1140) demonstrates 90% of the application of isotopes in medicine if for diagnostic procedures. Technetium-99 is the most commonly used radioisotope for medical diagnosis. Ramamoorthy and Binukumar (2010, p. 46) say that technetium-99 is used widely as a radioactive tracer. This isotope is commonly used because it is detectable within the body through the use of specialized medical equipment such as gamma cameras. Technetium-99 is releases gamma rays and this explains why gamma cameras are able to detect it within the body. More importantly, technetium-99 is relatively safer in diagnosis as compared to other isotopes. This is due to the fact that it its physical and biological half-life is short. As a result, it decays within 24 hours of exposure to the body. This provides sufficient time for the quick detection of chemical equipment while it keeps the exposure of the patient to the radiation as low as possible (Bodamer and Halliday (2001, p. 446). This demonstrates why this isotope is commonly applied in medical diagnosis. Prvulovich and Bomanji (1998, p. 1143) explain that isotopes are also commonly used in therapy. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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