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An Introduction to the Physics of Nuclear Medicine

Laura Harkness-Brennan


The complexity and vulnerability of the human body has driven the development of a diverse range of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques in modern medicine. The nuclear medicine procedures of positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and radionuclide therapy are well-established in clinical practice and are founded upon the principles of radiation physics. This book offers an insight into the physics of nuclear medicine by explaining the principles of radioactivity, how radionuclides are produced and administered as radiopharmaceuticals to the body and how radiation can be detected and used to produce images for diagnosis. The treatment of diseases such as thyroid cancer, hyperthyroidism and lymphoma by radionuclide therapy are also explored.

About Editors

Dr Laura Harkness-Brennan is a senior lecturer in the department of physics at the University of Liverpool, where she teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses in medical physics and nuclear instrumentation. She completed her PhD in 2010 and, in the same year, she received the Shell and Institute of Physics Women in Physics Very Early Career Award. She now leads a team of researchers developing novel radiation detection and imaging techniques for medical physics and nuclear structure physics experiments.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Building Blocks of Matter
1.2 Fundamental Forces
1.3 Overview of Nuclear Medicine

2 A Brief History of Nuclear Medicine
2.1 Radioactivity
2.2 Production of Radionuclides for Medicine
2.3 Diagnostic Imaging

3 Radioactivity
3.1 Nuclear Stability
3.2 Radioactive Decay Processes
3.2.1 Alpha Decay
3.2.2 Beta Decay
3.2.3 Gamma Decay
3.3 Radioactive Decay Law

4 Radionuclide Production
4.1 Radionuclide Selection
4.2 Cyclotrons
4.3 Nuclear Reactors
4.4 Radionuclide Generators
4.5 Production Yield
4.6 Emerging Radiopharmaceuticals

5 Radiation Interactions with Matter
5.1 Gamma-Ray Interaction Mechanisms
5.1.1 Photoelectric Absorption
5.1.2 Compton Scattering
5.2 Charged Particle Interaction Mechanisms
5.2.1 Collisional Coulomb Energy Loss
5.2.2 Radiative Energy Loss
5.2.3 Charged Particle Range

6 Radiation Detection
6.1 Gas Detectors
6.2 Semiconductor Detectors
6.3 Scintillation Detectors
6.4 Performance of Radiation Detectors

7 Imaging
7.1 Gamma Camera
7.2 Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography
7.3 Positron Emission Tomography

8 Radionuclide Therapy
8.1 Principles of Radiotherapy
8.2 Medical Internal Radiation Dosimetry (MIRD)

A Chemical Symbols


Paperback ISBN: 9780750329224

Ebook ISBN: 9781643270333

DOI: 10.1088/978-1-6432-7034-0

Publisher: Morgan & Claypool Publishers


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