ANSTO to resume Tc-99m production soon

06 August 2018

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) expects to be able to recommence production of technetium-99m (Tc-99m) generators this week. ANSTO has been importing the generators from the USA since a mechanical issue with a conveyer belt was identified on 22 June. The fault has been fixed and quality control tests are now being finalised, it said on 3 August.

ANSTO's new molydenum-99 production facility (Image: ANSTO)

Tc-99m is the most commonly used nuclear medicine and is produced by the decay of the parent isotope, molybdenum-99 (Mo-99). Both Tc-99m, and the Mo-99 used to produce it inside a Tc-99m generator, are very short-lived so a reliable and steady supply is needed.

“We are now working through a controlled start-up process that incorporates full equipment checks, and will then ramp up our production,” ANSTO said. “This nuclear medicine is a critical part of the Australian health landscape, enabling up to 10,000 diagnoses a week, and if anything, this experience has very much highlighted the value of our domestic supplies.”

Each week ANSTO normally provides this nuclear medicine to 250 hospitals, clinics and pharmaceutical suppliers in Australia and the region. In clinical settings, Tc-99m is used to diagnose a variety of heart, cancer, lung and muscular skeletal conditions. It thanked the Australian nuclear medicine community for their support during the interruption.

Operations at ANSTO's OPAL reactor and the production of other radioisotopes have not been affected by the suspension.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News