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Rubidium Shortage? The N13 Alternative for PET Scanner Cardiac Studies

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As many of you are aware, the Strontium 82 isotope used to produce the Rubidium 82 tracer is in short supply this summer. BRACCO Diagnostics Inc., the sole supplier of Rb82, has indicated that, at this point, the shortage is expected to last from March through July of this year. 

However, this shortage may not affect your ability to offer or continue to offer cardiac studies to your patients. Through generator sharing, rental, or even switching to a new radioisotope (Nitrogen-13 ammonia), your practice may be able to weather this shortage with minimal discomfort.

If you are thinking of expanding your cardiac studies practice, don’t let this temporary situation discourage you. Block has some solutions.

If you live very close (less than 5 minutes) from a cyclotron that produces N13, this may be your ticket to offering cardiac imaging – especially if you are doing occasional imaging. One hospital we know of is using N13 exclusively and has since 2009.

Dr. George M. Segall, Chief of Nuclear Medicine Service at the VA Palo Alto Heath Care System and President of the Society of Nuclear Medicine, finds both N13 and Rb82 qualitatively equivalent with high first pass myocardial extraction fractions. For problematic cases, such as an inconclusive SPECT or high BMI, Segall says N13 is an excellent choice.

The Mayo Clinic found in 2007 that “While 82Rb is a more convenient imaging agent for technologists,we have chosen to utilize 13N NH3 because it produces better image resolution and is more cost effective for our current operation.”

Is N13 right for you?

Only you can make that call, but here are some questions that you might find helpful.

  1. Where is the nearest N13 producing cyclotron?
  2. What is a realistic number of scans I plan to do this summer?
  3. Do I have a large number of problematic cases?
  4. What other options do I have?
  5. Can I use N13 initially and switch to RB82 as my practice builds and the shortage passes?

Refurbished PET ScannerNow is the time to prepare!

Many practices may be delaying buying decisions now due to the shortage. We expect to see an inordinate demand for gated PET scanners in the 3rd Quarter of 2011. It may be advisable for your practice to consider buying at today’s relatively stable prices.

Contact your Block Imaging Solutions representative for gated PET scanners that perform well with either N13 or Rb82. We have several available immediately.

Even if geography and patient load dictate the need for Rubidium 82, now is the time to look at PET scanners and plan for the necessary build out. It’s not too early to find the right scanner for your practice. You’ll hit the ground running!


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