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Thallium has several industrial uses, including:
The manufacture of optical glass
In some alloys
In low-temperature thermometers
In the chemical industry, in catalytic processes
In green fireworks
However, due to the health risks of occupational exposure, it is highly regulated.
Thallium is also used as a rodenticide in some parts of the world, as well as being found in tobacco smoke. Thallium isotopes are also used in clinical imaging.
These activities included the development of hightemperature
superconducting materials for such applications as magnetic resonance imaging, storage of magnetic
energy, magnetic propulsion, and electric power generation and transmission. The development of improved methods for manufacturing high-temperature superconductor tapes and films, such as thallium-barium-calcium-copper oxides, also received attention during the year. These tapes and films could be significant energy saving devices when applied in, for example, ultrafast computer and power transmission systems. Further use of radioactive thallium in clinical diagnostic applications, including cardiovascular and oncological imaging, also was studied during 2003. In addition, dipyridamole-thallium imaging continued to be a useful preoperative procedure for assessing longterm cardiac risks in patients with coronary artery disease or diabetes who are undergoing peripheral vascular surgery.
Thallium Tumor Imaging General Considerations
Thallium accumulates mainly within viable tumor tissue, and to a much lesser degree within connective tissue which contains inflammatory cells. Its accumulation is barely detectable in necrotic tissue. Localization of Thallium within tumors is likely multifactorial, involving blood flow, tumor viability, the sodium-potassium ATPase system, the non-energy dependent co-transport system, the calcium ion channel system, vascular immaturity with leakage, and increased cell membrane permeability [Nuclear Medicine Annual 94, p.183]. Cellular uptake of thallium is not affected by steroids, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. By comparison, note that radiation therapy and chemotherapy do immediately inhibit gallium accumulation.
A baseline pretreatment determination of a tumor's thallium avidity is crucial to its efficacy in therapeutic response assessment. Early reports confirm an association between thallium uptake and histologic tumor response to treatment. The optimal time for thallium tumor imaging is 20 to 60 minutes post injection. Delayed images at 3 hours are recommended when imaging lymphoma because of an improved lesion to background ratio on the later images. The typical dose used for imaging is 3 to 4 mCi (or 30 to 40 uCi/kg). Spot views of the lesion should be 5 minute preset timed images using a high resolution collimator.
The normal distribution of thallium within the body is in the choroid plexus of the lateral ventricles, lacrimal glands, salivary glands, thyroid, myocardium, liver, spleen, splanchnic areas, kidneys, and testes. There is also uniform muscle uptake. Bone marrow activity should not be seen, and if noted indicates marrow hyperplasia. There is little uptake in healing surgical wounds. The elimination of thallium is slow, with a biologic half-life of 10 days. The kidneys are the critical organ. Unfortunately, thallium does not demonstrate a 100% specificity for tumors and false-positive uptake has been seen in histiocytosis X, benign bone tumors, stress fractures, and inflammation.
Normal brain uptake of the agent occurs from the CSF and is related to neuronal activity. There is normally little or no thallium uptake in the white matter. Thallium will not cross an intact BBB, yet disruption of the blood brain barrier is not the sole factor which affects thallium accumulation within a primary CNS lesion as little thallium accumulation is identified at sites of cerebral infarction. Uptake of thallium in CNS tumors is also likely dependent on the ATP-ase activity of the sodium-potassium pump and to active transmembrane transport via the K+/glucose co-transport system in viable tumor cells [JNM, Sept. 94, p.1414; Nuclear Medicine Annual 94, p.43]. Thallium accumulates in residual recurrent tumor in porportion to the malignant grade and total viable tumor bulk. Thallium can also accumulate in benign tumors such as meningiomas and pituitary adenomas [JNM, Dec95, p2202]. Thallium accumulation is minimal or negative at sites of radiation necrosis and resolving hematomas.