Emory Johns Creek Hospital, which is already regarded as one of the best in the world is getting even better – by opening a Nuclear Medicine Unit that will offer patients cutting edge technology.

“Nuclear medicine is a tool to evaluate functional imaging at a molecular level.” Chief of Radiology Services Howard Fleishon said. “Bringing this state-of-the art equipment on line underscores Emory’s commitment to the hospital and our community.”

Nuclear medicine is a specialized area of radiology in which very small amounts of radioactive materials – known as radiopharmaceuticals – are used to examine organ function and structure. The radiology is most commonly used to help diagnose and treat diseases, including cancer, in their early stages.

X-rays can pass through soft issue, which include intestines, muscles and blood vessels. But a doctor has to use a contrast agent in order for the tissue to be seen more clearly. However, nuclear imaging, which studies organ and tissue function, allows the tissue to be seen more easily, which can lead to a better diagnoses and treatment plan. Nuclear medicine can also be used to detect if a cancer has remained local or spread to other areas.

“It’s almost like using a landline versus using an iPhone or mobile phone to get information,” Fleishon said. “The whole concept is different. It is personalized medicine.”

Nuclear medicine has an array of uses, including detecting and treating cancer and monitoring the kidney, liver and gallbladder.

“It has a whole gamut of utilization because it can not only detect a variety of diseases including cancer, but it can be used as a therapeutic agent because we can use it to inject radioactive agents to specifically attack cancer cells,” Fleishon said. “What’s also exciting about having nuclear medicine is that it is at the cusp of innovation in medicine.”

Emory Johns Creek Hospital’s Nuclear Medicine Unit will have an eight slice CT scanner and nuclear medicine camera. The Discovery 860 provides better quality, detail, and more sensitivity, but also reveals more pathology than the hospital’s previous camera. It’s also faster and allows doctors to fuse nuclear medicine and CT’s together to compare pathology.

“This new technology is much like moving from a Polaroid camera to a digital camera,” Chrystal Barnes, the hospital’s director of imaging said, adding the console also allows images to cardiologists’ cellphones.

The opening of the Nuclear Medicine Unit comes six months after Emory Johns Creek was ranked No. 133 in the U.S. hospitals section of the Newsweek World’s Best Hospitals rankings.

Emory Johns Creek, which opened in 2007, was ranked one spot below Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital, while Emory University Hospital in Atlanta was ranked No. 25 worldwide, making it the state’s lone hospital to make the illustrious list.

“Our community has seen phenomenal growth.” said Fleishon, who has been a doctor at the hospital for the past five years. “We are combining the advantages of community based patient centered care with the innovation and expertise available at a world-class academic medical center. The Johns Creek community is well-served with the services we provide but also with the culture we’ve developed at our hospital.”

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. was ranked No. 1 in the world, followed by the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio; Singapore General Hospital in Singapore; Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore; Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in Berlin, Germany; Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston; Toronto General Hospital in Toronto, Ontario; the University of Tokyo Hospital in Tokyo, Japan; CHUV Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne, Switzerland; and Sheba Medical Center Tel HaShomer in Ramat Gan, Israel.

Emory Johns Creek Hospital, which serves Fulton, Forsyth, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Hall, Cobb and Cherokee counties was also recently awarded the 2019 Mission Lifeline: STEMI Receiving Center Gold Award by the American Heart Association for following the latest research-based standards for severe heart attacks. ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) is a very serious type of heart attack during which one of the heart’s major arteries is blocked.

Emory Johns Creek is undergoing a $61 million hospital expansion that will be completed in stages. The hospital has planned a Nov. 7 groundbreaking ceremony for an expansion that will include 40 beds on the sixth floor and three more in the Intensive Care Unit.