How Radioisotopes Are Used for Medical Treatment

How radioisotopes are used for medical treatment

1 min read

Radioisotopes, also known as radioactive isotopes, are elements that contain an unpredictable blend of proton and neutrons in the nucleus.

Due to its instability, it releases radiation as it breaks down and becomes increasingly unstable. Now, you might wonder how something that is radioactive can possibly be helpful in the medical field. Keep reading to find out how radioisotopes are used for medical treatment.


Originally used for carbon-dating ancient artifacts like the Turin shroud, Carbon-14 is also used in the medical field to diagnose various medical conditions. This works through radiotracing, which identifies key marker materials in a patient to observe any abnormalities, helping medical professionals arrive at a proper diagnosis. A practical example of this is its use in the urea breath test. Through the ingestion of a radiotracer pill, physicians can detect traces of bacterium commonly found in patients with gastritis and peptic and gastric ulcers.


Radioisotopes are common in oncology centers worldwide as they are extremely useful in diagnosis and management care. Have you ever wondered how physicians can see tumors in the body? This is how radioisotopes are used for medical treatment. This works through the connection of antibodies to a radioisotope that will then attach itself to cancer cells. When administered, radioisotopes will disperse throughout the body, specifically locating cancer cells which will then light up in body scans.


Nuclear medicine is quite valuable in the treatment of various conditions, especially cancer. For example, in a patient with thyroid cancer, the ingestion of a radioactive isotope can destroy any cancerous cells in the areas and eliminate any unnecessary thyroid tissue. A non-cancerous illness that radioactive isotopes can manage is rheumatoid arthritis, which is a particularly debilitating form of arthritis that results in chronic inflammation in the body, commonly affecting the joints. If prescription drugs can’t entirely mitigate the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, then physicians might administer radioisotopic synoviorthesis.

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