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No, You Most Definitely Will NOT Glow!

Technetium-99m is a radioactive isotope that is used in millions of nuclear medicine studies globally every year. It is the decay product of molybdenum-99, which is created by bombarding uranium-235 with neutrons. There are only a handful of reactors worldwide (namely the National Research Universal Reactor in Ontario and the High Flux Reactor in the Netherlands) that have the capacity to produce Mo-99 and a number of them have gone offline for routine maintenance but also unexpectedly over the last few years, causing a worldwide shortage of Tc-99m. Due to non-proliferation treaties, there are NO reactors producing Mo-99 in the U.S. Recently, Poland's Maria Reactor's products have been approved by the FDA, allowing a decreased, but tolerable supply of Mo-99 to continue coming into the country. Unfortunately, due to multiple reactors being down simultaneously over the last month or so, Mo-99 supplies have dwindled down to a trickle. In my office, this means we are constantly calling patients when we hear from the pharmacy, at the last minute, to cancel and reschedule studies. Patients don't always get the message in time, though, and end up coming in for nothing. We've been able to fall back a bit on the isotope we previously used for cardiac studies, Thallium-201 (which is produced locally, in a cyclotron), but the studies are lower quality and don't allow for dynamic imaging (showing heart wall motion) and also increase the study time, which some patients can't accommodate. In short, it is a major pain in my ass, and I'm getting sick of it. Unfortunately, periodic shortages will continue at least through October, though hopefully the extreme shortages will be done by mid-June. We'll see. The U.S. needs to get a clue from all of this and figure out a way to get a reactor or two built (fuck the NIMBYs) so we can supply our own Tc-99m though.

A couple fact sheets from Covidien, the major producer of Tc-99m generators.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 27th, 2010 01:07 am (UTC)
I want you to know I forced myself to read this post. haha
I almost quit "radioactive isotope."
May. 27th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
lol, gee thanks.

Hey, we were watching Battlestar Galactica last night and I was, like, "OMG Starbuck looks just like Jessica!"
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )