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Analysis

How Radiologists are Handling the Nuclear Materials Shortage

By smace@healthleadersmedia.com  
   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.


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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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