Patients will face delays in getting diagnostic scans due to severe shortage of imaging agents

September 6, 2008,

A global shortage of medical isotopes* used in over 80% of routine diagnostic nuclear imaging procedures such as heart imaging, bone scans and some cancer detection procedures, will cause delays and cancellations to diagnostic examinations across the UK and Europe in the next few weeks, predict experts on bmj.com today.

UK hospitals are receiving less than 50% of expected supplies and rations are expected to drop still further in the coming weeks, write Alan Perkins and colleagues from the British Nuclear Medicine Society.

According to the European Association of Nuclear Medicine European hospitals are already limited to only 20��% of normal nuclear medical activities.

The authors warn that if NHS managers in the UK aim to meet the six-week target for diagnostic waiting times by altering bookings on the basis of waiting times rather than clinical priority, some patients may receive sub-optimal treatment.

Currently Europe's three isotope production reactors are all shut down because of maintenance issues and European producers only have enough radioisotopes to last until September 8.

In addition, other reactors in Canada and South Africa have also been temporarily closed, leaving just the Australian reactor which, according to the authors, does not have enough potential to significantly increase supply to the world market.

The closure of the Canadian reactor for two months in 2007 for safety reasons affected over 50 000 patient examinations in the US.

The authors point out that this is not just a short term emergency. Most of the commercial reactors are around 40 years old and new production capacity is urgently needed to meet the increasing demands of isotopes for research, diagnosis and treatment.

They warn that urgent global investment in new reactor facilities is essential or these problems will continue and it will be the patients that suffer.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Total-body PET: Maximizing sensitivity for clinical research and patient care

Related Stories

Total-body PET: Maximizing sensitivity for clinical research and patient care

January 3, 2018
The new total-body PET/CT scanner could revolutionize our understanding and treatment of disease through analysis of better imaging data from the whole body. In The Journal of Nuclear Medicine (JNM) featured January article, ...

New system for treating colorectal cancer can lead to complete cure

November 2, 2017
Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston have developed a new, three-step system that uses nuclear medicine to target and eliminate colorectal ...

Migraines linked to high sodium levels in cerebrospinal fluid

November 28, 2017
Migraine sufferers have significantly higher sodium concentrations in their cerebrospinal fluid than people without the condition, according to the first study to use a technique called sodium MRI to look at migraine patients. ...

A new role for an old protein in breast cancer

December 4, 2017
Scientists led by Dr Chris Toseland of the University's School of Biosciences studied a protein called Myosin VI, a molecular motor which acts as a courier to transport other proteins within our cells. Myosin VI is highly ...

Diagnostic imaging increases among stage IV cancer patients on Medicare

July 30, 2012
The use of diagnostic imaging in Medicare patients with stage IV cancer has increased faster than among those with early-stage (stages I and II) disease, according to a study published July 30 in the Journal of the National ...

Virtual fly-through bronchoscopy yields real results

October 3, 2011
For patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) the accurate determination of the lymph node status before therapy is critical to develop an individualized treatment plan. Research from the October issue of the Journal ...

Recommended for you

Best of Last Year—The top Medical Xpress articles of 2017

December 20, 2017
It was a good year for medical research as a team at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, found that dancing can reverse the signs of aging in the brain. Any exercise helps, the team found, but dancing ...

Pickled in 'cognac', Chopin's heart gives up its secrets

November 26, 2017
The heart of Frederic Chopin, among the world's most cherished musical virtuosos, may finally have given up the cause of his untimely death.

Sugar industry withheld evidence of sucrose's health effects nearly 50 years ago

November 21, 2017
A U.S. sugar industry trade group appears to have pulled the plug on a study that was producing animal evidence linking sucrose to disease nearly 50 years ago, researchers argue in a paper publishing on November 21 in the ...

Female researchers pay more attention to sex and gender in medicine

November 7, 2017
When women participate in a medical research paper, that research is more likely to take into account the differences between the way men and women react to diseases and treatments, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.