Medical Definition of Gamma ray

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Gamma ray: High-energy electromagnetic radiation emitted by certain radionuclides when their nuclei transition from a higher to a lower energy state. Gamma rays have high energy and a short wave length. All gamma rays emitted from a given isotope have the same energy, a characteristic that enables scientists to identify which gamma emitters are present in a sample. Gamma rays penetrate tissue farther than do beta particles or alpha particles, but leave a lower concentration of ions in their path to potentially cause cell damage. Gamma rays are similar to x-rays.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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