RADIOISOTOPE DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING: TECHNETIUM-99m
Technetium-99m is the primary radioisotope used in nuclear medicine. NTP is a leading global supplier of parent isotope Mo-99 and producer and supplier of NovaTec-P Tc-99m generators.
Technetium-99m (Tc-99m) is a radioisotope and has been used as a safe and effective radioactive medical tracer since the 1950s. More than 80% of all nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures conducted today use Tc-99m – more than 40-million procedures each year.
Tc-99m is the daughter or decay product of radioisotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99). Mo-99 does not exist in nature, and is produced by bombarding enriched uranium targets with neutrons in a nuclear reactor. Because of the short half-lives of the isotopes – 66 hours for Mo-99, and just six hours for Tc-99m – these products cannot be stockpiled, and must be produced in fresh batches almost daily.
Tc-99m can be used as a biological diagnostic agent because it has a very short half-life; however, this also makes the radioisotope very difficult to transport. To address this, nuclear medicine practitioners work with devices called Tc-99m generators. These generators contain feedstock of Mo-99, and facilitate a Tc-99m elution (extraction) process by washing the immobilised Mo-99 with a saline solution and drawing off the Tc-99m solution. In this way, specific doses of Tc-99m are extracted as patients require. NTP produces and supplies a high-quality NovaTec-P Tc-99m generator, which is ISO 9001:2015 and cGMP compliant.
Once it has been extracted from the generator, the Tc-99m is then labelled (combined) with other specialised radiopharmaceutical products, which target specific organs or systems in the body, before being injected into the patient.
Tc-99m emits gamma rays that can be detected by medical equipment called gamma cameras, allowing medical practitioners to view internal biological processes.
Atomic information: Tc-99m
Isotope name: technetium-99m
Appearance: Tc-99m sodium pertechnetate solution (colourless)
Half-life: 6 hours
Emits: Gamma radiation
Used in: Diagnostic procedures
Decays to: ruthenium-99