SNM poll: Isotope shortage affecting users, procedures

By staff writers

June 15, 2009 -- TORONTO -- A poll of SNM members has confirmed the severity of the global molybdenum-99 shortage, as 90% say the lack of medical isotopes has impacted their practice or facility.

Two-thirds of the responses noted they do not have access to a technetium generator source beyond their current supplier. In addition, approximately 26% are operating at less than 50% of their capacity because of the isotope shortage, 36% are operating at 52% to 75% of capacity, and 38% are running at 76% to 100% procedure capacity.

'Job issue'

The reduced patient volume at those practices, hospitals, and outpatient facilities has nuclear medicine technicians concerned about their futures. "It is also a job issue, because practices where patient flow is down, technicians have concerns about potential layoffs," said Robert Atcher, Ph.D., outgoing SNM president and professor of pharmacy at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In other survey findings, 60% of the respondents said they had to postpone patient procedures, while 32% noted that procedures were cancelled.

In addition, 51% used another isotope for the imaging procedure, 44% changed to a different procedure, and 5% of the respondents transferred their patient to another facility.

Of the practitioners who changed the procedure, 49% used thallous chloride Tl-201, 16% opted for a non-nuclear medicine procedure, and 4% chose F-18 fluoride to perform a bone scan.

Rapid response

One indication of how serious SNM members view the shortage is how rapidly they responded to the survey. SNM distributed the poll via e-mail on the morning of Thursday, June 11. SNM received approximately 900 responses by the next morning and another 200 replies by Saturday, June 13, Atcher said.

Canadian health minister meets SNM execs, June 15, 2009

Facing Mo-99 shortage, nuclear medicine economizes, June 11, 2009

Canada medical reactor shutdown may be extended, June 5, 2009

AECL reactor down 'at least three months,' May 29, 2009

Hospitals brace for shortage of medical isotopes, May 22, 2009

Copyright © 2009


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