Alberta Health Services rescheduling PET, CT scans after malfunction

Dozens of Alberta patients are having to have their PET and CT scans rescheduled after a key piece of machinery called a cyclotron has broken down for a second time.

EDMONTON — Dozens of Alberta patients are having to have their PET and CT scans rescheduled after a key piece of machinery called a cyclotron has broken down for a second time.

Alberta Health Services says the first breakdown on Sept. 28 forced an eight-day shutdown and resulted in the cancellation of 180 exams.

The machine at Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute suffered a second shutdown on Oct. 14, forcing tests to be rescheduled for 69 patients, including 40 from Calgary.

Mauro Chies of AHS says they’re hoping to start rebooking the appointments next week, and will be aggressive, doing scans on weekends in order to accommodate more patients.

The machine is 13 years old and normally they last 20.

Chies describes the breakdowns as “uncommon.”

“We anticipate that once the machine is up and running, that we’ll be able to catch up in very short time as we will double up on the activity as quickly as we possibly can.”

The cyclotron creates a product that works as a dye in diagnostic tests. AHS is bringing in product from other provinces to get what exams in that they can.

Not only is a cyclotron used for cancer treatment but also for epilepsy, dementia, and heart treatment.

“In Calgary we’re able to perform approximately 13 exams a day. Normally we’re doing 19,” says Chies. “In Edmonton were able to perform 23 scans a day when normally we’re doing 30.”

A feasibility study is underway to see if a second machine can be added in Calgary.

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