Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

NM Bone Scan

Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging is a section within the Department of Diagnostic Radiology that uses small amounts of radioactive materials to either image the function of organs or systems within the body or to treat disease. Our clinical mission is to provide advanced, high-quality, safe, and comfortable radionuclide-based imaging and therapy for all our patients. In addition, our academic mission is to teach the next generations of physicians with expertise in this field, as well perform research from the bench to the bedside. Very small and safe amounts of gamma or positron emitting radiopharmaceuticals are used to image a variety of processes within the body including cancer, heart disease, infection, and so on, using molecular targeting resulting in functional imaging. These unique images provide information not obtained by other imaging modalities in Radiology and are very sensitive. The emitted radiation is used to create an image using gamma cameras (including Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT)) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Our section has three SPECT scanners, two with CT capabilities as well, and two PET/CT scanners.


Other radiopharmaceuticals which emit alpha or beta-minus radiation are used to treat a variety of different cancers as well as benign disease of the thyroid gland. The same molecular targeting is used to deliver radiation preferentially to the cells of interest, with limited toxicity to normal organs. We perform all FDA-approved radionuclide therapies including I-131 for hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer, Y90-ibritumomab for lymphoma, Ra223 for prostate cancer, Lu177-DOTATATE for neuroendocrine tumors, and I-131 mIBG for pheochromocytoma and paragangliomas. We also support the Dotter Department of Interventional Radiology for Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) with Y90 spheres.

Theranostics Program

The combination of therapy and diagnostics done with a pair of radiopharmaceuticals is termed Theranostics. This has revitalized the field of Nuclear Medicine and is critical to the concept of precision or personalized medicine. The imaging serves as a non-invasive biomarker (or companion diagnostic) helping guide which patients should be treated with a specific therapy and allowing for monitoring after therapy. Our section has established a comprehensive Theranostics Program to enable further development of this important field. A major part of this program is the Center for Radiochemistry Research at OHSU.