The American College of Radiology issued a statement today on the impact of the loss of more than 50 percent of the North American Mo-99 supply.

Cutbacks have affected the ability of physicians to perform diagnostic cardiac nuclear medicine studies that depend on a reliable daily supply of isotope Technetium (Tc-99m), the ACR said.

While urgent nuclear cardiology studies may still be performed with a different cyclotron produced radiopharmaceutical, Thallium-201 (Thallous Chloride), there are few alternatives to Tc-99m radiopharmaceuticals for non-cardiac imaging with nuclear medicine materials — which includes tests for cancer and other disorders.

Until the shortage issue is resolved, radiologists are working to seek out alternative imaging methods in order to provide the information needed by patients and their primary physicians, according to the ACR. For example, Covidien subsidiary Mallinckrodt Medical can secure Mo-99 from its production facility in the Netherlands, though it cannot fully replace the Mo-99 deficit with this European source.

The ACR will be continuing to monitor the situation, as well as examine how it can help radiologists with the issue, and the college said it would update members on developments as information becomes available.

The shortage stems from the closing of radioisotape maker Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd’s National Research Universal reactor in Chalk River, Ontorio. The facility, which supplies more than two thirds of the world’s radioisotopes, announced last week that operations will be shut down until early- to mid-January in order to satisfy safety regulations and upgrade an electrical backup system.