In developed countries (a quarter of the world population) about one person in 50 uses diagnostic nuclear medicine each year, and the frequency of therapy with radioisotopes is about one-tenth of this.
Nuclear medicine uses radiation to provide information about the functioning of a person's specific organs, or to treat disease.
Over 10,000 hospitals worldwide use radioisotopes in medicine, and about 90% of the procedures are for diagnosis.
The most common radioisotope used in diagnosis is technetium-99 (Tc-99), with some 40 million procedures per year, accounting for about 80% of all nuclear medicine procedures worldwide.
Single photon emission computerised tomography (SPECT) is the current major scanning technology to diagnose and monitor a wide range of medical conditions.
North America is the dominant market for diagnostic radioisotopes with close to half of the market share, while Europe accounts for about 20%.In Australia there are about 560,000 per year, 470,000 of these using reactor isotopes.The use of radiopharmaceuticals in diagnosis is growing at over 10% per year.If a series of images is taken over a period of time, an unusual pattern or rate of isotope movement could indicate malfunction in the organ.A distinct advantage of nuclear imaging over X-ray techniques is that both bone and soft tissue can be imaged very successfully.