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Module Objectives

The learner should:

  • Ensure that (s)he can perform a complete radiopharmaceutical preparation without error or assistance.
  • Ensure (s)he understands the issues regarding patient, personnel and environment safety when working with radioactive materials and is able to apply that knowledge in practice when preparing a radiopharmaceutical.

Introduction to Radiopharmaceutical Preparation

Radiopharmaceuticals are pharmaceutical products that include a radionuclide in their composition. They are used in Nuclear Medicine mainly for diagnosis but some are also used for therapeutic treatment of human diseases. See further information on Radiopharmaceuticals.

Radiopharmaceuticals may be delivered to the Nuclear Medicine department in a ready-to-use form by industrial manufacturers or by a central radiopharmacy, or they are formulated in their final form in the radiopharmacy of the hospital. This is dependent upon the half-life (T½) of the radionuclide contained in the particular radiopharmaceutical. In general, preparations containing a radionuclide with a half-life over 6 hours are available from commercial suppliers who prepare, formulate and analyse these radioactive drugs according to the principles of Good Manufacturing Practice. Radiopharmaceuticals labelled with technetium-99m (T½ = 6 h), for example, are usually prepared according to Good Radiopharmaceutical Practice rules in the radiopharmacy of a hospital shortly before their use. In this way, loss of an important fraction of the radiolabelled product during transport (by decay of the radionuclide) can be avoided. However, in a few countries central radiopharmacies also deliver single doses of technetium-99m labelled radiopharmaceuticals to a number of Nuclear Medicine departments. See further information on Radiopharmacy Design.

In the current situation, radiopharmaceuticals labelled with technetium-99m are by far the most used preparations in Nuclear Medicine. Among them 99mTc-medronate, also called 99mTc-methylene diphosphonic acid or 99mTc-MDP is a well established bone seeking agent.

As stated above, the preparation of technetium-99m radiopharmaceuticals is mostly carried out in the hospital radiopharmacy shortly before administration to the patient. When preparing radiopharmaceuticals, certain safety and quality issues must be considered.

Module Structure

More detailed information related to the preparation of radiopharmaceuticals in general and of 99mTc-MDP in particular is provided in this module under the following headings: