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Enthusiasts take the lead

Naturally, we perceive ‘radiation’ as being negative, connecting it to nuclear disaster. Needless to say, Belarus’ experience of Chernobyl has shaped public opinion. However, radiation is widely used in medical science to treat cancer
By Victor Mikhailov

In Europe, radionuclide diagnostics (‘nuclear medicine’) celebrated their 85th anniversary recently, having begun in 1927. “Despite this, such techniques are yet to be widely applied in Belarus: we lack specialists and information on practical application,” explains the Head of Minsk’s City Centre for Radionuclide Diagnostics, Vladimir Terekhov.

How is radionuclide diagnostics used? Generally, they supplement other research methods... 
Modern doctors rely on examinations and tests to diagnose patients: x-ray computer tomography, nuclear magnetic resonance and ultrasonic methods. Radionuclide research is a significant weapon in their arsenal, being able to detect myocardial ischemia and hidden ischemia at an early stage. This brings early treatment, avoiding invasive methods, which can be expensive and more risky.

Naturally, it’s beneficial to reduce healthcare costs and avoid unnecessary patient trauma. In gaining a full picture of the nature of an illness, efficient treatments can be prescribed (for example, regarding ischemia) — even avoiding surgery. Preventative medicine can be deployed at an early stage, which may prove successful alone. 

Radionuclide diagnostics can be used in cases of perfusion of brain tissue, circulatory problems and heart attack. Belarus actually leads in this sphere, with our Centre for Radionuclide Diagnostics (set up a year ago) studying perfusion of the myocardium and brain. Our methods are helping staff at the Republican Cardiology Scientific-Practical Centre operate on brachiocephalic arteries and diagnose essential hypertension (kidney or non-kidney pressure). Our staff have been twice awarded — including by the President of Belarus, and the Centre has published two monographs on radionuclide diagnostics while actively participating in lecturing. In Soviet times, such specialists were trained in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev and, after the USSR’s collapse, our specialists were left on the sidelines. With this in mind, staff training is of vital importance.

What does the future hold?
Future is the launch of hybrid technologies and hybrid apparatuses which will be combining single-photon emission computer tomography (radionuclide diagnostics and x-ray) to diagnose not only metastatic lesions but gain a good picture of the heart muscle in tomographic mode. Such equipment will have several applications. At present, the world medicine practice goes away from one-type devices while launching those which combine several directions. Another device will be uniting single-photon computer tomography and nuclear magnetic resonance. In Europe, leading companies like Siemens, General Electric and Philips are involved in such development, combining nuclear magnetic resonance, x-ray computer tomography and single-photon emission computer tomography. This will allow examination at molecular sub-cell level. Our country is keen to be at the cutting edge of such science.
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