Production of radioisotopes

> Medical applications
> Industrial applications
> Quality and reliability

Medical applications

Our BR2 reactor plays an important part in the production of various types of medical radioisotopes. SCK•CEN generally meets approximately 20 to 25 % of the global demand. On a weekly basis this can amount to 65% when the reactor is in operation. We manage production orders for large radio-pharmaceutical companies all over the world.

A radioisotope is an unstable variant of a chemical element which spontaneously disintegrates and emits radiation during the radioactive decay process. In medicine these isotopes are used for medical imaging purposes.

Measurement of the emitted radiation makes it possible to accurately monitor radioisotopes in the body and thus analyse the function of the organ or metabolism in question.

Radioisotopes are increasingly used for medical treatments such as cancer therapy or pain management. The radiation kills the disease causing cells.

SCK•CEN produces radioisotopes for various medical applications.

Typical examples of medical imaging
  • Oncology and cardiology: technetium-99m
    (available from molybdenum-99/technetium-99m generators)
  • Lungs: Xenon-133

Typical examples of cancer treatment
  • Curie therapy (internal radiotherapy): iridium-192
  • Brachy therapy and prostate cancer: iodine-125
  • Thyroid cancer: iodine-131
  • Solid tumours: lutetium-177

Typical examples of other medical applications
  • Injection into joints attacked by rheumatism: erbium-169
  • Cardiology: rhenium-188 (available from tungsten-188/rhenium-188 generators)
  • Pain management in bone metastases (samarium-153, strontium-89, rhenium-186, etc)

Industrial applications

We also produce radioisotopes for industrial applications, including the following:

  • Radiographic quality control of welded connections: iridium-192
  • Food sterilisation: cobalt-60
  • Applications in the chemical sector (mercury-203, bromine-82, argon-41)

Quality and reliability

Our clients value the fact that we are a highly reliable supplier. The production of radioisotopes and distribution to our clients are subject to rigorous quality controls, a process which is EN ISO 9001:2000 certified.



More information on our Science Platform

SCK•CEN is member of, the Belgian network for radiation applications in healthcare, a structure aimed at promoting this concept worldwide.

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