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A 38-year-old member asked:

What are the differences between a radionuclide and a radiopharmaceutical in medical imaging?

2 doctor answers3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Douglas Bourgon
Radiology 24 years experience
Nothing significant: These two term are often used interchangeably for the agent injected to create Nuclear Medicine scan images.
Created for people with ongoing healthcare needs but benefits everyone.
Dr. Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay
Hospital-based practice 23 years experience
Semantics. Chemical.: A radiopharmaceutical (RP) is any chemical (drug) tagged w/ a radioactive atom or substance. Often times the radioactive atom is "attached" to the chemical after it's made (tag). A Radionuclide (RN), in contrast, is attached to the chemical *as* it's made, so strictly speaking, it's part of the compound (which is why radionuclides r often used in PET scans). All RNs r RPs, but not all RPs are RNs.
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Last updated Jan 11, 2018
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