Shortage Of Technetium For Diagnostic Procedures

Shortage Of Technetium For Diagnostic Procedures

..Pablo Malo Segura.
Technetium is the most widely used radioisotope in nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures (scintigraphy) in patients with tumor, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic and other organ processes. It is obtained from a 99Mo-99mTc molybdenum generator and in the radiopharmacy of the nuclear medicine services it is used for the preparation of radiopharmaceuticals that are going to be used for scintigraphy. “The technical problems in the supply of molybdenum necessary for the manufacture of the generators have caused a shortage of technetium to carry out diagnostic procedures in nuclear medicine services”, explains Dr. María José García Velloso, president of the Spanish Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (Semnim) and a specialist in nuclear medicine at the University of Navarra Clinic (CUN).

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

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As a consequence, he points out that “thousands of patients are affected by the delay or impossibility of performing the scintigraphic studies that allow clinical decision-making in medical, surgical or radiotherapy treatment.” The technetium shortage stems from technical problems at reactors that produce molybdenum generators for medical purposes. “In Spain there is no production of these generators and we depend on their import,” he says.

In the last week, the massive global shortage of molybdenum has led to a significant reduction in its availability for use in nuclear medicine, which could be zero as of next week. “The situation is expected to normalize by November 23, but it depends on no new incidents occurring,” reports the president of Semnim.

Therefore, it regrets that the performance of nuclear medicine tests using technetium-labeled radiopharmaceuticals will be limited. “While molybdenum is scarce, priority should be given to patients with more serious pathologies or those who 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, alternative diagnostic tests should be considered in patients who require it », he affirms.

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

What patients can be affected?
As explained by the president of Semnim, “the shortage of technetium limits the performance of examinations such as bone scintigraphy (detection of tumor or infectious pathology of bones and joints), cardiac (detection of ischemia and myocardial infarction, alteration of ventricular function) , pulmonary (detection of thromboembolism in the lungs), renal (detection of problems in kidney function and kidney transplants) hepatic (abnormalities in the function of the liver and bile ducts), cerebral (Parkinson’s disease and others movement disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia), parathyroid (detection of tumors) and other functional studies of the rest of the organs.

The scarcity of technetium limits the performance of examinations such as bone, cardiac, pulmonary, renal, hepatic, 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. “Semnim wants to thank the technetium supply companies in Spain for their hard work to alleviate the consequences of the current shortage,” she says. 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 term, in order to maintain patient access to essential medical procedures.

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