Bellvitge Hospital's modern radiopharmacy facilities look to the future

- Facilities

The Radiopharmacy Unit of the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Institute of Diagnostic Imaging, which was completely refurbished just over a year ago, is ready to incorporate new radiopharmaceuticals for both healthcare and research, enabling this Unit to respond to all current healthcare needs and to have a vision of the future.

This unit, which operates within the framework of the Nuclear Medicine Service, is responsible for the preparation and administration of radiopharmaceuticals, that is substances which, once injected into the patient, act as a contrast agent that allows specialists to observe live the functioning of the interior of the organism with technologies such as positron emission tomography (PET). This enables the precise diagnosis of various complex neurological (neurodegenerative diseases, dementia, movement disorders, epilepsy), cardiovascular, oncological, digestive or renal pathologies, among others, which facilitates the prescription of the most appropriate treatment for each patient.

The unit complies with all internationally established manufacturing good practice requirements for the correct preparation of radiopharmaceuticals, thus guaranteeing maximum safety and quality.

One of its distinguishing features, compared to other radioactive facilities, is that the clean room has two separate areas: the cell labelling area and the radiopharmaceutical preparation area. Each has two biological safety cabinets. This allows different procedures to be carried out simultaneously, avoiding the possibility of cross-contamination.

Another differentiating feature is that the clean room has a separate area for the synthesis of new PET radiopharmaceuticals, which are essential for research development.

In addition, the quality control room is equipped with a fume cupboard and a high-resolution liquid chromatograph, where the quality control of PET radiopharmaceuticals for healthcare and research can be carried out.

The spaces are completed by a radiopharmaceutical administration room, a waiting room for inpatients, a room for pulmonary ventilation studies, a radioactive waste room, and adapted toilets. A radiopharmaceutical dose communication system between the clean room areas as well as between these and the dose administration room reduces the risk of irradiation to staff and patients.

The Bellvitge University Hospital had the first public PET/CT scanner in Spain in 2003 and was also the first public centre to have two PET/CT scanners in 2016. It is currently undergoing the adaptation works to host, in the coming months, a High Precision Diagnostic Centre with the first PET/MRI of the Spain’s public health network, in collaboration with the Daniel Bravo Andreu Private Foundation.

The hospital currently performs more than 9,000 PET/CT scans per year and serves a wide geographical area of Catalonia. In addition, more than 15,000 scintigraphy scans and more than 1,000 cell labelling tests are performed on patients from various hospitals.