Medical imaging is done to create visual representations of what is happening on the interior of the body, allowing medical workers to see internal organs and identify abnormalities. These technologies are advancing rapidly, and the new forms of medical imaging such as SPECT and PET require specific, short lived isotopes to be absorbed by tissues in the patient’s body. These isotopes emit gamma rays that are recorded by detectors that surround the body. Using these techniques, the human becomes the source of radioactivity, unlike other medical imaging procedures such as an X-Ray or CT scan.
Radioisotope Supply Chain
The specific radioisotopes needed for these non-invasive procedures are only produced by particle accelerators. The short life of these isotopes presents a challenge to manufacturers. They can not be shipped long distance and can not be preserved if there is more than currently desired. This also presents us with a consistent demand for businesses in the industry and an opportunity to capitalize on the technological advantages we have in the Lansing area. This also creates the need for manufacturers and researchers to come to Lansing and support the industry.
Sterilization of Medical Equipment and Devices
The traditional way to sterilize medical equipment (gamma sterilization) is to use highly radioactive sources such as Cobalt-60 and Cesium-137. While these sources are effective, they are also costly and have potential use in the production of dirty bombs. Accelerator based sterilization offers many advantages over radioactive sources. The process costs about 30% less than nuclear sterilization, the accelerators can produce radiation of varying intensity (offering greater throughput), and the materials are not a security threat as accelerators can not be used in the production of dirty bombs.
Lansing Area Involvement
- Medical radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals for imaging (FRIB, MSU Radiology, Niowave & Ionetix)
- Sterilization of medical instruments, devices and implants (Niowave)
- Point of care cyclotrons for on-site production of PET radioisotopes (Ionetix)