An improved tungsten-178/tantalum-178 generator system for high volume clinical applications

J. L. Lacy, M. E. Ball, M. S. Verani, Henry B Wiles, J. W. Babich, A. D. LeBlanc, M. Stabin, L. Bolomey, R. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Clinical utilization of the multiwire gamma camera (MWGC) requires low-energy radionuclides. The short-lived (9.3 min) tantalum-178 (178Ta) is ideally suited for the MWGC and can be produced from long-lived (21.7 day) tungsten-178 (178W) by a previously reported 178W/178Ta generator. This generator, however, is limited by sharp increase in breakthrough after elution of only 30-60 column-volumes. To optimize the 178W/178Ta generator for clinical use, varying eluant acid concentrations were evaluated. A reduced (from 0.1 to 0.03N) HCl concentration in the eluant, coupled with low operating temperatures (3 to 5°C) allowed high (40 to 60%) 178Ta yield. Minimal 178W breakthrough (<.01%) resulted, even after elution of more than 200 column-volumes. Each of six tested generators provided sterile, high activity (up to 100 mCi) 178Ta elutions for more than 30 days. Radiation dosimetry was estimated utilizing both human and animal biodistribution data. The whole body (critical organ) dose in adults and neonates were 1/20 (1/21) and 1/19 (1/50) respectively relative to that of technetium-99m (99mTc) as sodium pertechnetate. The optimized 178W/178Ta generator provides a commercially practical, safe source of low-energy radioisotope for the MWGC with substantial dosimetry advantages over 99mTc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1526-1538
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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