The Subcommittee on Survey of Nuclear Medicine Practice in Japan has performed a nationwide survey of nuclear medicine practice every five years since 1982 to provide detailed information on its current status.
Methods: Questionnaires were sent to every institution known to the Japan Radioisotope Association to provide nuclear medicine examinations. The questionnaires address the number and kind of nuclear medicine examinations performed as well as the kind and dose of the radiopharmaceuticals used during the month of June 2002. The annual number of total or specific examinations was then estimated.
Results: Of the institutions sent questionnaires, 1,204 were for in vivo study, 124 were for in vitro study, and 36 were for positron emission tomography (PET) study. Out of these, 95.8% answered them. A total of 1,697 gamma cameras were installed in 1,160 facilities, of which 50% were dual-head cameras. The estimated total annual number of examinations expressed by the number of administered radiopharmaceuticals was 1.60 million, similar to that of the previous survey (1997). The frequency of study with single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) increased to 40%, from 30% in the previous survey. The scintigraphy most frequently performed was bone (35%), followed by myocardium (24%) and brain perfusion (12%). All showed a continuous increase over the past 20 years. Tumor imaging, however, fell from third to fourth place. The most commonly used radiopharmaceutical for each scintigraphy was 99mTc-HMDP for bone, 201Tl-chloride for myocardium, 67Ga-citrate for tumor, and 123I-IMP for brain. A total of 29,376 PET studies were performed yearly. Among them, 18F-FDG rapidly increased 3.7-fold. 131I therapy for thyroid cancer and hyperthyroidism was conducted yearly in 1,647 and 3,347 patients, respectively. A total of 31.35 million in vitro radioassays were carried out yearly, the number of which has been decreasing continuously since 1992.
Conclusions: It was proved that the content of nuclear medicine practice in Japan has changed in the past five years. This report might be useful for understanding the current trends of nuclear medicine practice in Japan.