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Medical Isotope Shortage Sparks Reductions in Imaging Procedures

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, August 26, 2010

A worldwide shortage of medical isotopes for medical imaging is threatening to jeopardize patient care, scientists said this week at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

"Although the public may not be fully aware, we are in the midst of a global shortage of medical and other isotopes," said Robert Atcher, PhD, MBA, who directs the National Isotope Development Center, a Department of Energy unit responsible for production of isotopes nationwide, in a statement.

"If we don't have access to the best isotopes for medical imaging, doctors may be forced to resort to tests that are less accurate, involve higher radiation doses, are more invasive, and more expensive," he added. The shortage already has forced some physicians to reduce the number of imaging procedures that they will order for patients.

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