shortage of technetium for diagnostic procedures

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..Pablo Bad Safe.
The technetium It is the most widely used radioisotope in nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures (scans) in patients with tumoral, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic and other organ processes. It is obtained from a molybdenum generator 99Mo-99mTc and in the radiopharmacy of nuclear medicine services is used for the preparation of radiopharmaceuticals to be used for performing the scintigraphy. «The technical problems in the supply of molybdenum necessary for the manufacture of the generators have caused the shortage of technetium to perform diagnostic procedures in nuclear medicine services», explain it Dr. Maria Jose Garcia Vellosopresident of the Spanish Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (Shemnim) and specialist in nuclear medicine at the Navarra University Clinic (CUN).

Dr. García Velloso: “Thousands of patients are affected by the delay or impossibility of performing scintigraphic studies that allow clinical decision-making in medical, surgical or radiotherapy treatment”

As a consequence, he points out thatthousands of patients are affected by the delay or impossibility of performing scintigraphic studies that allow the clinical decision making in medical, surgical or radiotherapy treatment. The technetium shortage stems from technical problems in the reactors that produce molybdenum generators for medical purposes. «In Spain does not produce these generators and we depend on their importation»indicates.

In the last week, the massive shortage of molybdenum worldwide has caused a significant reduction in its availability for use in nuclear medicine, which could be null as of next week. «It is expected that the situation is normalized by November 23but it depends on the fact that no new incidents occur»informs the president of the Semnim.

Therefore, it regrets that the realization of nuclear medicine tests using technetium-labeled radiopharmaceuticals will be limited. «While molybdenum is scarce, they must Prioritize patients with more serious pathologies or that cannot be delayed for clinical reasons. At the moment the supply of molybdenum generators is cut off, if it is not possible to wait until it is restored, they must consider alternative diagnostic tests in patients who require it»it states.

“While molybdenum is scarce, patients with more serious pathologies or those who cannot be delayed for clinical reasons should be prioritized,” says the president of Semnim

Which patients can be affected?
As the president of Semnim explains, «the shortage of technetium limits exploration as the Bone scintigraphy (detection of tumor or infectious pathology of the bones and joints), cardiac (detection of myocardial ischemia and infarction, impaired ventricular function), pulmonary (detection of thromboembolism in the lungs), renal (screening for kidney function problems and kidney transplants) hepatic (abnormalities in the functioning of the liver and bile ducts), cerebral (Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia), parathyroid (tumor detection) and others functional studies of the rest of the organs».

The lack of technetium limits the performance of explorations such as bone, heart, lung, kidney, liver, brain, parathyroid (tumor detection) scintigraphy and other functional studies of the rest of the organs

Dr. García Velloso assures that the nuclear medicine services are working to prioritize patients with more serious pathologies. «The Semnim wants to thank the companies supplying technetium in Spain for their intense work to alleviate the consequences of the current shortage», precise. Finally, she recalls that the new Samira plan of the European Union establishes the need to ensure the supply of radioisotopes for medical purposes in the medium and long termwith the purpose of maintain patient access to essential medical procedures.

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