18 September 2019

Technetium (Tc-99m) scans

Technetium (Tc-99m) is an isotope commonly used as a radioactive tracer in nuclear medicine diagnostic imaging scans.

Australia-wide shortage

Following a mechanical failure at Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Australia is currently experiencing a shortage of Technetium (Tc-99m).

This shortage will affect the volume of Tc-99m scans that can be undertaken.

Clinical implications

Clinicians are asked to prioritise scans based on clinical need, and defer non-urgent scans until Tc-99m supply returns to normal. Where clinically appropriate, clinicians and nuclear medicine teams should also recommend alternative scans.

To utilise existing Tc-99m resource capacity, scans may be brought forward, where appropriate.

It is unknown how long the shortage will last; however, ANSTO is undertaking measures to provide a limited Tc99m supply across Australia. Alternatives to Tc-99m based imaging are also being investigated.

Prioritisation of scans should continue until the shortage is resolved. Scans that will be most impacted are skeletal and myocardial scans. Clinicians are advised that there may be significantly reduced capacity for Tc99m scans on some days during this period.

Medical Benefits Schedule additional imaging items

To offset the impact, the Australian Federal Department of Health has added six additional, temporary nuclear medicine diagnostic imaging items to the Medicare Benefits Schedule, effective from Tuesday 17 September.

This means that clinicians can continue to refer patients for standard tests which will be substituted with alternative scans, where appropriate, by nuclear medicine service providers.

Clinicians are asked to be aware that tests may be substituted, and to discuss with their patients at the time of referral. Patients can also be referred to technetium scans (HealthyWA) for more information.

Produced by

Radiation Health Branch

More information

Radiation Health Unit
Phone: 9222 2000
Email: Radiation Health Unit