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September 3, 1973

Medical News

JAMA. 1973;225(10):1165-1175. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220380003002

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Off-and-on ruling on technetium use illustrates a problem in medicine  The temporary ban on the use of a radioactive lung-scanning agent,99mtechnetium-ferrous hydroxide, has been lifted by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).This means that the AEC considers the agent safe for continued clinical testing.The ban was in force only a matter of weeks, but the case illustrates some of the complexities in the clinical use of materials, particularly radioactive materials, that are still considered experimental.The story began in 1972 at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC. Over a period of about two months between July and September, three patients died—each within 30 minutes after receiving99mtechnetium-ferrous hydroxide in preparation for lung scans.Deaths due to lung scanning are rare—only three had been reported in the American literature up to that time. None of these had been associated with technetium-labeled ferrous hydroxide particles.Technetium 99-ferrous hydroxide