Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine is the clinical discipline concerned with the medical uses of radioactive materials.

This includes both functional and anatomical imaging of organs and tissues for diagnostic purposes, therapeutic administration of isotopes, and in vitro tests based on competitive binding of radiolabeled compounds. The main activity of nuclear medicine is in vivo imaging. Nuclear medicine utilizes knowledge of physiology in order to image organ function and thereby derive diagnostic information.

In addition to the teaching program at all levels in the School of Medicine, the department has an active research program which includes development of new instrumentation and radiopharmaceuticals aimed at improving the extending the usefulness of clinical radioisotope procedures. Students are encouraged to contact Department of Nuclear Medicine members concerning the courses listed below or to make less formal arrangements to pursue their interests in nuclear medicine.

The Department of Nuclear Medicine participates in patient care at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Buffalo General Medical Center, VA Medical Center and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and encompasses a diverse group of individuals in a variety of settings who share the common goal of providing high quality health care to patients.

The primary mission of the Department of Nuclear Medicine is to teach and train students at all levels of education, and to provide the services required to give the best of nuclear imaging techniques to the public in our immediate environment and beyond and to advance the boundaries of knowledge through our research, our scholarship, and creative activity.

In addition to outpatient clinics, the Department of Nuclear Medicine provides inpatient care, inpatient consultations, nuclear medicine imaging services, and clinical research. Educational programs are available for undergraduate medical students, medical and specialty residents, and continuing education for nuclear physicians and imaging practitioners in the community.

Students taking the nuclear medicine clinical rotation in Buffalo will work in one of the affiliated nuclear medicine departments under the guidance of one of the nuclear medicine physicians. The student will participate in patient diagnosis and the intellectual challenge presented in assisting in formulating patient diagnoses and treatment wherever indicated. The clinical variety offered and the freedom to conduct research and to make original clinical observations are definite pluses in this specialty.

Fourth-year elective courses for medical students are integrated into the other educational activities of the department. The fourth- year elective in nuclear medicine is one month of training at one of the four hospitals in the integrated residency program. During the nuclear medicine elective, the student is provided practical experience in the clinical setting in the performance and interpretation of common nuclear medicine procedures. The student develops hands-on experience in history taking, physical examination and the evaluation of the request received from the referring physicians, the importance of the application of the nuclear imaging procedure requested, and evaluation of comparative imaging data as well as laboratory data and their importance in the interpretation of nuclear imaging. The student participates in the total management of the patient under the supervision and guidance of a full-time faculty member in nuclear medicine. In addition, students participate in departmental programs for the residents and the community. The overall goal of the elective is to understand the contribution of the field of nuclear medicine to complete patient care.

Nuclear medicine is the clinical discipline concerned with all medical uses of radioactive materials (with the exception of sealed radiotherapy sources). This includes static and dynamic imaging of organs and tissues for diagnostic purposes, therapeutic administration of isotopes, and in vitro tests based on competitive binding of radiolabeled compounds. Nuclear medicine combines medicine and basic biological sciences which originally had their roots in the fields of radiology, internal medicine, and pathology. Nuclear medicine is primarily a clinical diagnostic discipline, it uses physical chemical principles and requires a background in such areas as physiology, biochemistry, mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer sciences, and statistics.

The discipline of nuclear medicine uses highly advanced technology in order to perform functional (physiological), rather than anatomical (structural), imaging for patient management. Technological innovations are constantly occurring and rapidly developing in this field.

The field of nuclear medicine is an interdisciplinary approach since it interacts with multiple medical specialists. Nuclear physicians are usually university-or hospital-based, or both.

For more information concerning career and educational opportunities in nuclear medicine, contact Dr. Robert S. Miletich, Department of Nuclear Medicine, 105 Parker Hall (South Campus), 3435 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214-3007. Tel: (716) 838-5889.

Course Descriptions

  • NMD 801 Clinical Nuclear Medicine, 4 credits
    This rotation serves as an introduction to the medical uses of radioactive materials.
  • NMD 950 Research in Nuclear Medicine, 4 credits
    The Department of Nuclear Medicine is engaged in many areas of research including instrument development, radiopharmaceutical and new technique development, and basic and clinical scientific investigations of disease states using both animal models and human patients.