2. Radio Isotopes

Radioisotope production

The sustainability of radioisotope production is one of the critical areas that receive great attention. There are more than 160 different radioisotopes that are used regularly in different fields; these isotopes are produced either in a medium or in high-flux research reactors or particle accelerators (low or medium energy). Some of the radioisotopes produced by the reactor and particle accelerators and their applications are given in Table.

Reactor radioisotopeHalf-lifeApplications
Radioisotopes produced by reactors
Bismuth-21345.59 minIt is an alpha emitter (8.4 MeV). Used for cancer treatment, e.g., in the targeted alpha therapy (TAT)
Cesium-1319.7 daysIt emits photon radiation in the X-ray range (29.5–33.5 keV). Used in brachytherapy of malignant tumors
Cesium-13730 yearsUsed in medical devices (sterilization) and gauges (661.64 keV)
Chromium-5128 daysUsed in Diagnosis of gastrointestinal bleeding and to label platelets (320 keV)
Cobalt-605.27 yearsUsed for controlling the cancerous growth of cells (1173.2 keV)
Dysprosium-1652 hUsed for synovectomy treatment of arthritis (95 keV)
Erbium-1699.4 daysUsed for relieving arthritis pain in synovial joints (8 keV)
Holmium-16626 hDiagnosis and treatment of liver tumors (81 keV)
Iodine-12560 daysUsed in cancer brachytherapy and radioimmunoassay (35 keV)
Iodine-1318 daysWidely used in treating thyroid cancer and in imaging the thyroid, diagnosis, and renal blood flows (284 keV)
Iridium-19274 daysUsed as an internal radiotherapy source for cancer treatment. Strong beta emitter for high-dose rate brachytherapy (317 keV)
Iron-5946 daysUsed in studies of iron metabolism in the spleen (1095 keV)
Lead-21210.6 hUsed in TAT for cancers (239 keV)
Molybdenum-9966 hUsed as the parent in a generator to produce technetium-99 m (740 keV)
Palladium-10317 daysUsed to make brachytherapy permanent implant seeds for early-stage prostate cancer. Emits soft X-rays (362 keV)
Potassium-4212.36 hUsed for potassium distribution in bodily fluids and to locate brain tumors (1524 keV)
Radium-22311.4 daysUsed to treat prostate cancers that have spread to the bones
Rhenium-1863.71 daysUsed for therapeutic purpose to relief pain in bone cancer. Beta emitter with weak gamma for imaging (137 keV)
Samarium-15347 hEffective in relieving the pain of secondary cancers lodged in the bone, sold as Quadra met. Beta emitter (103 keV)
Selenium-75120 daysUsed to study the production of digestive enzymes (265 keV)
Sodium-2415 hUsed for studies of electrolytes within the body (2754 keV)
Ytterbium-16932 daysUsed for cerebrospinal fluid studies in the brain (63 keV)
Radioisotopes produced by accelerators
Cobalt-57272 daysUsed as a marker to estimate organ size and for in vitro diagnostic kits (122 keV)
Copper-6413 hUsed for PET imaging studies of tumors and also cancer therapy (511 keV)
Copper-672.6 daysBeta emitter, used in therapy
Fluorine-18110 minUsed as fluorothymidine (FLT)
Gallium-6778 hUsed for tumor imaging and locating inflammatory lesions (infections)
Indium-1112.8 daysBrain studies, infection, and colon transit studies
Iodine-12313 hUsed for diagnosis of thyroid function
Rubidium-821.26 minConvenient PET agent in myocardial perfusion imaging
Strontium-8225 daysUsed as the parent in a generator to produce Rb-82
Thallium-20173 hUsed for location of low-grade lymphomas


Some of the radioisotopes produced by the reactor and particle accelerators and their applications.

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