Medical radioisotopes
A head x-ray taken by a computer-assisted tomographic (CAT) scanner. Photo: Linda Bartlett/US NCI

The use of medical radioisotopes is an important part of modern medical practice. Many millions of patients around the world benefit from nuclear medicine imaging. Medical radioisotopes are used in non-invasive diagnostic imaging techniques at an early stage, to help identify and stratify commonly occurring critical conditions such as heart disease and cancer. They are then used to track disease progression and provide predictive information about the likely success of different therapy options. This helps health care professionals to correctly manage disease and to make well-informed important medical decisions, such as therapeutic drug choice or surgical intervention.

Publications and reports
NEA work on this topic

In 2009, at the request of its member countries, the NEA became involved in global efforts to ensure a reliable supply of 99Mo and 99mTc and the NEA established the High-level Group on the Security of Supply of Medical Radioisotopes (HLG-MR). The HLG-MR comprised experts representing member states, the European Commission (Euratom Supply Agency) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The HLG-MR ran for four consecutive mandates and formally concluded its activities at the end of 2018. The NEA continues to monitor the status of the supply of medical radioisotopes through other programmes.