September 9, 2010
Worldwide Shortage Of Isotopes For Medical Imaging Could Threaten Quality Of Patient Care
Twenty million medical scans and treatments are done each year that require radioactive isotopes, and scientists today described a global shortage of these life-saving materials that could jeopardize patient care and drive-up health care costs. They spoke at a symposium at one of the opening sessions of the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.
Medical isotopes are minute amounts of radioactive substances used to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases. Isotopes injected into the body can enable doctors to determine whether the heart has adequate blood flow; cancer has spread to a patient's bones; and help diagnose gallbladder, kidney, and brain disorders. When delivered into a malignant tumor, isotopes can kill the cancer cells minimizing damage to nearby healthy tissue. The shortage of radioactive isotopes also threatens activities in other areas, including basic and environmental research, oil exploration, and nuclear proliferation, the scientists noted.
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