Last Updated 24 Mar 2020

The role of nuclear energy in the field of medicine

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Nuclear energy is a type of energy which is released by a reaction called as nuclear reaction. There are two main types of nuclear reactions, one is called fission and the other one is fusion:

In Fission reaction it releases a nuclear energy when a single heavy nucleus seperates into two smaller ones, causing energy to be released . The most common element used to undergo nuclear fission is uranium because uranium has many favorable properties. Uranium nuclei can be easily split by applying neutrons at them. The fission reaction is used to make heat for producing steam, which is then used by a turbine to generate electricity.

but if in a fusion reaction a two single nuclei combines together to form another nucleus which is heavier. This reaction occurs only under very hot conditions. Nuclear fusion is used to generate a lot of energy in the form of light, hear and radiation. This energy supports life on our planet and it was the only energy early mankind used.

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Scientists have discovered that nuclear energy can be used in treating various diseases such as cancer, heart disease, endocrine, gastrointestinal and other abnormalities found inside the body. Nuclear energy provides a good solution in treating certain diseases affecting people in today’s world.

In the field of Cardiopulmonary. Nuclear energy is used in scanning and visualizing blood flow and also heart function. In treating cancer diseases such as Melanoma and breast cancer, Nuclear energy can have their lymph mondes located first before doing the surgery. It can also find out whether there are respiratory problems and blood flow in lungs.

Another major important use of Nuclear energy is for the treatment of various cancers such as Melanoma and breast cancer. Patients having Melanoma and breast cancer can have their lymph nodes found first before doing the surgery, thyroid cancer and tumors that spread to the bones are also cured by using Nuclear energy.

In other diagnostic use of nuclear energy, Nuclear energy is used to evaluate tumors, arthritis, fractures and infenction of bones. Locating the area where there is an infection, identifying problems causing gallbladder inflammation and bleeding into the bowel can be treated using nuclear energy. It can also be used to investigate brain abnormalities, such as loss of memory, seizures and abnormalities in blood flow.

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The effectiveness of using nuclear energy to solve diseases is very effective because for eg; if a patient having cancer undergoes surgery, before doing the surgery doctors need to locate the specific area where the cancer are located to do this X-ray tomography or (CT) scans work by using nuclear tracers to emmit gamma rays once the rays are inside the body, special cameras are able to pick up the emitted gamma rays and show to the photo of the organ or the part where the cancer is to the doctor. This helps the doctors to successfully treat the patient.

Another more advanced technology called a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) isused in determining patients with cardiac conditions, problems in the brain and cancer, first positron-emitting radionuclides are injected into the patients body and then they gravitate to the organ and they begin to quickly decay. They emmit a positron and an electron from inside of the patients body an two very distinct gamma rays which the PET scans and forms an image. The photo helps doctors to locate where the problem is, this is more advanced than CT scans.

Comparing methods like CT scans and PET scans to other methods like Endoscopic ultrasound and others to determine where the cancer is to methods like brain scan, the method of CT scans are likely to be more dangerous and may harm the patient because in CT scans they use contrast agents which are chemical substances that are exposed to the human body when they are running the test. Contrast agents like Iodine is the contrast agent which is the most commonly used contrast agent can cause allergic reactions to some patients which includes a rash, a warm sensation or even in a worst case scenario difficulty to breathe normally.

Also in CT scans it involves patients to get exposed to ionizing radiation which is known to cause cancer. This becomes a problem for people who need multiple scans and also for children because children are more sensitive to radiation than to adults. So even though CT scans can help doctors to locate where the disease is they aren’t that reliable and can be harmful as well if they are not used properly.

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The use of CT scans to perform scans inside the body for the location of diseases inside the body can be very useful and can help to treat the patients. But CT scans are high tech devices and are very expensive which are only available in developed countries, for poorer countries like in Africa have no technology and money to get CT scanners and have to rely on alternative solutions to cure their diseases, Which sometimes give inaccurate results.


CT scanners need nuclear energy to produce the image inside the patient’s body. Nuclear energy is one of the world’s most efficient energy producer and electricity. This helps the society very much. But nuclear energy also can cause a great deal amount of damage to the environment. If a CT scanner has a gamma ray leak out it can cause greenhouse gas emissions to rise and harm the environment. Crops and drinking water exposed to gamma ray can cause lung tumor and thyroid cancer if consumed, Animals and marine life will be affected by it also, so people who are responsible for maintenance of the scanners must maintain the machine well or not there will be a great consequence to face.

From making this essay I came to know about the great use of nuclear power in the field of medicine, They can detect cancer, tumor and hemorrhage inside a person’s body and help doctors in treating them. But I also learnt that there is a limitation to this technology because some people have allergic reactions from nuclear energy and if exposed too much to a person’s body instead of treating the disease it can cause one, so we must be responsible using this strong energy.

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