13 September 2019

Medical diagnostic scans to be prioritised due to technetium shortages

Due to an Australia-wide shortage of technetium (Tc-99m), a substance commonly used in a number of medical diagnostic imaging scans, nuclear medical scans across the State will be prioritised from next week based on clinical need.

This prioritisation will allow limited Tc-99m resources to be appropriately allocated. Alternative diagnostic scans, which do not rely on Tc-99m, will also be utilised. Patients requiring non-urgent Tc-99m scans may have these deferred and rescheduled.

Scans that will be most impacted are skeletal and myocardial scans. However, it will not impact normal medical imaging scans such as standard x-rays, CT scans and MRIs.

Chief Health Officer, Dr Andrew Robertson, said that the Tc-99m shortage was due to a mechanical failure at Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) facility.

“This shortage is affecting all of Australia, and it is unclear how long it will last,” Dr Robertson said.

“It will affect the volume of Tc-99m scans that can be undertaken until supply resumes.

“However, it does not affect all forms of medical diagnostic imaging, and where appropriate, your clinician will suggest alternative sources and types of imaging.

“Patient care and safety is our priority and patients will continue to receive high-quality healthcare, with every effort made to minimise patient impact. Patients with concerns are asked to speak to their healthcare provider.”

ANSTO are undertaking measures to source supplies from overseas to supplement limited resources in Australia. The Department of Health WA is working with stakeholders to best manage this issue locally.

Note: Scans may also be brought forward in coming days to ensure optimal use of available resources – patients are asked to accommodate these changes where possible.


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