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Nuclear medical exams expected to increase with improvements to radioisotope transport

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | May 01, 2020
European News Molecular Imaging

A survey of radioisotope producers by the International Atomic Energy Agency found that bottlenecks in transport and distribution could cause shortages at hospitals. While many airlines are starting to use passenger aircraft for cargo-only flights, they require permission from air regulators to make such changes.

In addition, panelists from 18 countries confirmed in an IAEA webinar last month that fewer radiological procedures are being carried out worldwide due to the focus on the pandemic by healthcare professionals. Shipments of Mo-99/Tc-99m generators from Germany and the Netherlands to Tunisia, for instance, are now more costly to transport due to shifts in how they are transferred to Istanbul, with the devices arriving with an activity of around 500 mCi instead of the usual 840 mCi prior to the pandemic.

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To help providers modify procedures to offset potential shortages due to air traffic restrictions — as well as keep patients safe — IAEA recently issued a number of guidelines that advise managers to maintain detailed inventories as well as lists of all possible suppliers and distribution channels, among other recommendations. The guidelines were published in the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.

“Nuclear medicine physicians and staff need guidance to carry out imaging studies while preventing the further spread of COVID-19 during procedures,” said the director of the IAEA’s human health division May Abdel-Wahab in a statement. “They also need to be prepared for potential disruptions in the supply chain of essential radioactive tracers.”

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