How are radioisotopes and radiotracers created?
Generators are devices that contain a radioactive parent radioisotope with a relatively long half-life that decays to a short-lived daughter radioisotope, which is then used for diagnostic imaging or therapy. The most commonly used one is the technetium-99m ( 99m Tc) generator, which has molybdenum-99 ( 99 Mo) as the parent radioisotope. As decay of 99 Mo occurs, 99m Tc is formed and can then be eluted for use with various molecules to obtain scans of different physiologic processes. Cyclotrons are circular devices in which charged particles are accelerated and deflected into a target to create radioisotopes such as carbon-11 ( 11 C) and fluorine-18 ( 18 F). Medical grade nuclear reactors are sometimes used to create other isotopes.