26 September 2023

Health reacts to nuclear close down

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The Department of Health has begun working proactively to minimise the impact of an unexpected shortage of nuclear medicine scans in hospitals and medical centres.

The shortage has been caused by a malfunction in the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) facility at Lucas Heights, NSW limiting its capability of supplying radioisotope Technetium-99m (TC-99m).

TC-99m is mainly used for selective imaging of organs and soft tissues such as the lungs, bone, brain, liver and kidneys, enabling an effective diagnosis.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said the Department was thoroughly exploring alternative diagnostic methods with relevant clinical experts.

“My Department is working closely with State and Territory Health Departments to minimise the impact of the shortage, and with ANSTO’s Nuclear Medicine Working Group,” Mr Hunt said.

He urged patients to talk to their health providers if they had any concerns about their particular circumstances.

A spokesperson for ANSTO said it had four teams working in parallel to progress options to rectify the issue, and a fifth in daily contact with international partners to source medicine from overseas .

“We apologise to everyone who has been impacted by this issue, and assure them there are many people working across the country and the world to minimise that impact , ” the spokesperson said.

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