Radio-isotopes have helped in understanding the basic working of many of the internal organs and vital metabolic processes. They have also helped in the diagnosis and cure of many complicated diseases.
The radio-isotopes have also played a vital role in determining the affectivity and absorption of medicine in various parts of the body.
Radio phosphorus-32 and radio iodine-131 are used as tracer, to trace out the path of an element in the body or plant, animal or human-being. The position of the radio-isotope in the body can be detected from outside the body by the radiation it emits. This allows some diagnosis about internal organs to be made without surgery.
Iodine-131 is used for the body of thyroid garland.
Phosphorus-32 is used to locate precisely the position of tumor in the brain.
Radio sodium has been extremely useful in tracing the blood circulation in the body.
Radio strontium has been found effective in the treatment of internal hemorrhages and wounds.
Radio phosphorus has been effective for treating leukemia. Radiation emitted by it destroys the excess production of white blood corpuscles.
Certain types of cancers also respond to treatment by radiation emitted by radio-isotopes.
It has been found that certain types of cancerous cell absorb radio-isotope radiation preferentially. This helps in locating the cancerous portions of the body precisely, which can then be treated by bombardment by radiation from radio-isotopes. Radio cobalt-60 has been widely used to treat cancerous tumors inside the body.
Radiation in low dosages can also be used for sterilizing bandages, instruments and other surgical accessories.
In the twentieth century, radio-isotopes have brought about a revolution in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases thought incurable earlier. Their role will continue to grow.