Saturday, June 25, 2011

Yummy, Radioactive Oatmeal!

Medicine using radioactive materials in a variety of ways, CT and X-ray for diagnostic pictures, external radiation and implanted seeds to kill cancer, and injectable tracers for scans of the bones, heart, etc. But did you know, that on occasion, doctors must ask patients to eat radioactive material?

In some patients, the stomach does not process food as well as others. This is a complex process which involves acid production, but also muscular contraction to break up food and move it into the intestines. This is probably most common in patients with diabetes who develop nerve damage to where the muscular control of the stomach does not work properly. To make this diagnosis, called gastroparesis, you need to see how well the stomach handles food. You can not really do this with a camera since that would be quite uncomfortable to keep in your stomach for hours. Instead, doctors ask patients to eat something radioactive and watch the food as it moves forward. Most commonly, this is done with eggs, but I found this great new recipe for radioactive oatmeal  as an alternative. If you are interested, it turns out you should add the radioactive material before you add the boiling water.

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