The Nuclear Medicine Unit (NMU), Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya was the first facility established in Sri Lanka to provide Nuclear Medicine service for early detection of cancer and therapeutic purposes. This unit was opened in 1973 and has been supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Nuclear medicine imaging uses small amounts of radioactive materials called radiotracers that are typically injected into the bloodstream, inhaled or swallowed. The radiotracer travels through the area being examined and gives off energy in the form of gamma rays which are detected by a special camera and a computer to create images of the inside of the body in order to detect especially many types of cancers at early stages. Nuclear medicine imaging provides unique information that often cannot be obtained using other imaging procedures and offers the potential to identify disease in its earliest stages.
Recently, to cope with the growing demand of nuclear medicine services, NMU of Peradeniya underwent a major upgrade to bring its technical and safety standards into line with those of a modern nuclear medicine facility with the assistance of IAEA. At present this unit provides radioisotope imaging for various diseases mainly for cancer and renal disease, bone densitometry (DXA) to detect low bone mass (osteoporosis), Radioiodine therapy for thyroid cancer patients including post therapy scan and serum thyroglobulin assessment and patients with thyrotoxicosis. This institute provide various hormone analysis tests and regular clinics from Monday to Friday. This unit receives patients from all provinces of the country annually.
At present the NMU provides its service by carrying out around 5000 scans and treating over 200 patients for thyroid cancer per year. In addition to that over 30 000 blood tests are carried out using the radioimmunoassay technique, which is a highly accurate nuclear medicine method to diagnose disease and to check the effectiveness of the treatments. Furthermore, the University of Peradeniya is the only teaching institute in the country that has included nuclear medicine in the undergraduate medical curriculum. The NMU of Peradeniya acts as a teaching unit for both undergraduate and postgraduate students of various disciplines including medicine, medical physics, nuclear sciences and medical laboratory technology. This unit is also involved in carrying out undergraduate and postgraduate research studies leading to higher degrees.