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Wednesday, 5 December, 2007

Concern grows as radioisotope-producing Ontario nuclear plant remains closed

after electrical repairs have forced the temporary closure of Chalk River, Ontario nuclear reactor that supplies two-thirds of the radioisotopes used for diagnostic imaging worldwide. Canadian medical tests are already being canceled, reports Reuters.

The reactor shutdown threatens to delay a substantial amount of medical tests around the world, a Canadian expert on radiopharmacy said. [...]

“This is a critical radioisotope that is used to produce radiopharmaceuticals to diagnose many types of diseases and, therefore, the impact is quite widespread and important for patients with all kinds of health conditions,” [said Raymond Reilly, a radiopharmacist and professor of pharmacy at the University of Toronto.]

The isotope is used in about 90 per cent of all imaging studies in nuclear medicine.

“It is basically the cornerstone of nuclear medicine in terms of diagnostic imaging,” Mr. Reilly said.

Andrew Ross, a nuclear medicine specialist in Halifax, Nova Scotia, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. he has already cancelled tests for 100 patients and expected to cancel 100 more next week.

It is difficult to predict how widespread the testing delays will be, however, as some supplies can be obtained from other sources, Mr. Reilly said, noting that European sites obtain their isotopes from a different supplier.
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