February 16, 2014

Important Radioactive Isotopes used in Medicine and Non-Medicinal Fields

An isotope is one of two or more atoms that have the same atomic number but have different mass numbers. Not all isotopes are radioactive and there are many uses for them. List of important isotopes used by man are given below:

Iron-59 is used for studying how the spleen metabolizes iron.
Copper-64 is used to study genetic problems with copper metabolism.
Erbium-169 is used in the treatment of some forms of arthritis pain
Rhenium-186 is used for relieving bone cancer pain. Rhenium-188 is used for beta irradiation of arteries in angioplasty.
Palladium-103 is used in the treatment of prostate cancer.
Samarium-153 is used in the treatment of prostate and breast cancer and can also be effective in pain relief of secondary cancers.
Iodine-131 is used in the treatment of thyroid cancer and is also used for thyroid imaging.
Gallium-67 is used for tumor imaging.
Americum 121 : Used in many smoke detectors for homes and businesses
Cadmium 109 : Used to analyze metal alloys for checking stock, scrap sorting
Calcium 47: Important aid to biomedical researchers studying the cellular functions and bone formation in mammals.

  • Used to inspect airline luggage for hidden explosives
  • to gauge the moisture content of soil in the road construction and building industries
  •  to measure the moisture of materials stored in soils.

Carbon 14 : Major research tool. Helps in research to ensure that potential new drugs are metabolized without forming harmful by-products.
Cesium 137 :
  • Used to treat cancerous tumors
  • to measure correct patient dosages of radioactive pharmaceuticals.
  • to measure and control the liquid flow in oil pipelines.
  • to tell researchers whether oil wells are plugged by sand.
  • to ensure the right fill level for packages of food, drugs, and other products.

Chromium 51 : Used in research in red blood cell survival studies.
Cobalt 57: Used as a tracer to diagnose pernicious anemia
Cobalt 60:
Used to sterilize surgical instruments.
to improve the safety and reliability of industrial fuel oil burners.
Used in cancer treatment, food irradiation, gauges, and radiography.
Copper 67:  When injected with monoclonal antibodies into a cancer patient, helps the antibodies bind to and destroy the tumor.
Curium-244: Used in mining to analyze material excavated from pits.. .and slurries from drilling operations.
Gallium-67: Used in medical diagnosis
Iodine-123: Widely used to diagnose thyroid disorders and other metabolic disorders including brain function.
Iodine-125: Major diagnostic tool used in clinical tests and to diagnose thyroid disorders. Also used in biomedical research.
Iodine-129: Used to check some radioactivity counters in in-vitro diagnostic testing laboratories.
Iodine-131: Used to treat thyroid disorders. (Graves’s disease)
Iridium-192: Used to test the integrity of pipeline welds, boilers and aircraft parts and in brachy-therapy/tumor irradiation.
Iron-55: Used to analyze electroplating solutions and to detect the presence of sulphur in the air. Used in metabolism research.
  • Used in indicator lights in appliances such as clothes washers and dryers, stereos, and coffeemakers.
  • to gauge the thickness of thin plastics and sheet metal, rubber, textiles and paper
  • to measure dust and pollutant levels.

Nickel-63: Used to detect explosives, and in voltage regulators and current surge protectors in electronic devices, and in electron capture detectors for gas chromatographs.
Phosphorus-32: Used to detect explosives, and in voltage regulators and current surge protectors in electronic devices, and in electron capture detectors for gas chromatographs.
Phosphorus-33: Used in molecular biology and genetics research.
Plutonium-238: Has powered more than 20 NASA spacecraft since 1972
Polonium-210: Reduces the static charge in production of photographic film and other materials
Promethium-147: Used in electric blanket thermostats .and to gauge the thickness of thin plastics, thin sheet metal, rubber, textile and paper.
Radium-226: Makes lighting rods more effective.
Selenium-75: Used in protein studies in life science research.
Sodium-24: Used to locate leaks in industrial pipe lines and in oil well studies.
Strontium-85: Used to study bone formation and metabolism.
Strontium-90: Used in survey meters by schools, the military and emergency management authorities. Also used in cigarette manufacturing sensors and medical treatment.
Sulphur-35: Used in genetics and molecular biology research.
Technetium-99m: The most widely used radioactive pharmaceutical for diagnostic studies in nuclear medicine. Different chemical forms are used for brain, bone, liver, spleen and kidney imaging and also for blood flow studies.
Thallium-201: Used in nuclear medicine for nuclear cardiology and tumor detection.
Thallium-204: Measures the dust and pollutant levels on filter paperand gauges the thickness of plastics, sheet metal, rubber, textiles and paper.
Thoriated Tungsten: Used in electric arc welding rods in construction, aircraft, petrochemical and food processing equipment industries.
Thorium-229: Helps fluorescent lights last longer.
Thorium-230: Provides coloring and fluorescence in colored glazes and glassware
  • Major tool for biomedical research. Used for life science and drug metabolism studies to ensure the safety of potential new drugs
  • for self-luminous aircraft and commercial exit signs
  • for luminous dials, gauges and wrist watches.
  • to produce luminous paint, and for geological prospecting and hydrology.

Uranium-234: Used in dental fixtures like crowns and dentures to provide a natural color and brightness.
Uranium-235: Fuel for nuclear power plants and naval nuclear propulsion systems and used to produce fluorescent glassware, a variety of colored glazes and wall tiles.

Xenon-133: Used in nuclear medicine for lung ventilation and blood flow studies.


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