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How Radiologists are Handling the Nuclear Materials Shortage

Analysis  |  By  
   February 14, 2017

Radiologists are changing dosages, switching radioisotopes, and rethinking medical imaging requirements in response to unsteady technetium-99m supplies.

The shutdown last fall of a nuclear reactor in Canada continues to roil the practices and hospitals that depend on the nuclear material produced at that reactor and elsewhere.

In response to unsteady supplies of technetium-99m, radiologists have switched to different radioisotopes, adjusted technetium-99m dosage, and taken different approaches to imaging.

Squeezing Costs Through Technology

At St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Chief of Nuclear Medicine Frank Schraml, MD, explains how the hospital dealt with a similar shortage several years ago.

"The radiopharmacies in the area essentially give us priority, because we order a lot of isotopes," Schraml says.

During a severe shortage of technetium-99m two years ago, Schraml thought St. Joseph's might have to turn to thallous chloride 201, a suboptimal isotope, but instead decided to make its supply of technetium-99 go a little further.

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.

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