‘We know this is causing stress:’ AHS announces PET/CT scan delays

The expanded deal would eliminate those costs for multiple high-tech products such as global positioning systems, medical equipment, software and gadgets - levelling the playing field for those items. Mark Harmel / Getty Images

EDMONTON – Patients waiting for PET/CT scans may have to wait longer than expected because of a mechanical issue with a machine that produces material required to perform the scans.

PET/CT scanners need a material called Fluorodeoxyglucose. The material is produced in Edmonton in a large machine called a cyclotron.

On Friday, AHS said the cyclotron will be down all of next week.

On Sept. 28, the machine had a mechanical breakdown, causing an eight-day shutdown.

Alberta Health Services obtained the material from other provinces to perform urgent scans, but it couldn’t address all scans, resulting in about 180 patients having their scans postponed, according to AHS.

On Oct. 14, the cyclotron had another mechanical breakdown, and was expected to be out of commission for a week. The latest issue has delayed scans for another 69 patients in Edmonton and Calgary.

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AHS said they can normally perform about 19 scans a day in Calgary, but the mechanical breakdown has dropped that number to 13. In Edmonton, the number has decreased from 30 to 23 daily.

The mechanical issue only affects PET/CT imaging. AHS said all other scans, including CT scans, are not impacted.

On its website, AHS sent a message to patients:

“AHS sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience these delays have caused to patients and their families. We know this is causing stress and anxiety and we are doing all we can to fix it. Some scans continue to be done; decisions are made based on clinical acuity. Patients with higher acuity will have their scans done first.”

Patients are being contacted to reschedule appointments, and out-of-town patients will be reimbursed for travel and accommodations, AHS added.

Photos of the cyclotron. Courtesy: Alberta Health Services
Photos of the cyclotron. Courtesy: Alberta Health Services
Calgary doctors will have a new diagnostic tool in the fight against deadly diseases. The province announced plans for a cyclotron and new diagnostic facility July 15, 2021. Courtesy: Alberta Health Services

*Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Wednesday, Oct. 21. It was updated on Friday, Oct. 23 to include the latest on the delay.


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