Diagnostic techniques in nuclear medicine use radioactive tracers which emit gamma rays from within the body. These tracers are generally short-lived isotopes linked to chemical compounds which permit specific physiological processes to be scrutinized. They can be given by injection, inhalation, or orally.

A radioactive dose is given to the patient and the activity in the organ can then be studied either as a two-dimensional picture or, using tomography, as a three-dimensional picture. In combination with imaging devices which register the gamma rays emitted from within, they can study the dynamic processes taking place in various parts of the body. The earliest technique developed uses single photons detected by a gamma camera which can view organs from many different angles. The camera builds up an image from the points from which radiation is emitted; this image is enhanced by a computer and viewed on a monitor for indications of abnormal conditions. Single photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) is the current major scanning technology to diagnose and monitor a wide range of medical conditions.

Niowave manufactures molybdenum-99 which decays into technicium-99m. Tc-99m is used in 80% of all nuclear medicine procedures and decays away soon after imaging is completed. Niowave uses the LEU Modified Cintichem Process to harvest and purify Mo-99 from fission uranium targets.

Caption: A SPECT scan of a patient with uncontrolled complex partial seizures. The temporal lobe on the left side of the brain shows less blood flow than the right, confirming for the surgeon the nonfunctioning area of the brain causing seizures (source, Mayo Clinic).