About a month ago, Greg Piefer’s father had chest pains. He went to the hospital and told doctors he was having problems with his heart again. They gave him an EKG and said he was fine.
But they didn’t give him a test that would have used tracers, non-harmful radioactive particles often used a stress test to identify heart disease.
Two weeks later, Piefer’s dad was rushed back to the hospital with severe pain. Doctors found a near blockage in an artery known as the “widow’s maker,” which often leads to death.
“He went two weeks rolling the dice with his heart, and it was stupid,” Piefer, CEO of Monona-based SHINE Medical Technologies, told members at a Wisconsin Technology Council luncheon Tuesday. “They could’ve done this test that has almost no negative consequences, almost no cost.”
Piefer suspects part of the reason his dad didn’t receive diagnostic imaging was due to shortages of Molybdenum-99, a radioisotope that decays into technetium-99m, which is used in medical imaging. Demand fell after the last shortage and hasn’t recovered.
SHINE aims to change that, with a goal of producing nearly one-third of the world’s need for Molybdenum-99. That amounts to about two grams of the material per year. There are more than 40 million medical imaging procedures that use the radioisotope each year, half of which happen in the United States, according to Piefer. Read the full Wisconsin Health News story here.