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

Sep 06, 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: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.