Intecnus, a center of excellence for nuclear medicine in the heart of Patagonia

Intecnus headquarters in San Carlos de Bariloche (Fernando Calzada)

Under the model of the Foundation of the School of Nuclear Medicine (Fuesmen) and the Foundation of the Center for Nuclear Diagnostics (FCDN), Intecnus is a new player in the public health ecosystem in Argentina. Medical care, technological innovation and excellent training are combined in this center, equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and a multidisciplinary staff that has been operating in San Carlos de Bariloche since December 2017.

As explained to DEF by its Director General, Nuclear Engineer Luis Rovere, it is “a non-profit institution, but with cost recovery,” in the image and likeness of its founders, Fuesmen, based in Mendoza. FCDN, operating in the city of Buenos Aires. Together with the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA), they are the promoters of this ambitious project.

Doctors, medical physicists and technicians make up a team of professionals led by Rovere, a Rosario who arrived in Bariloche at the end of the 70s to study at the Instituto Balseiro and spent most of his CNEA career in this city in Rio Negro..

Nuclear engineer Luis Rovere, General Manager of Intecnus (Fernando Calzada)

Wide range of applications

Commonly associated with radiotherapy and cancer treatments, nuclear medicine is one area of ​​Intechnos’ interest but not the only one. His field of work is much broader and includes cardiology, recognition of neurodegenerative diseases, renal, gastrointestinal and thyroid dysfunctions, among others.

“The difference between Intecnus and other centers in the country is the number of diverse issues that are dealt with here, which makes us a unique medical center for diagnosis and treatment, as well as teaching and training professionals,” said Rovere.

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He has illustrated some hard-to-detect diseases, for which Intecnus’ state-of-the-art equipment is most effective. He pointed out that one of them is an artificial hip joint that can be separated from the bone. “We can determine whether this detachment is due to inflammation, infection, or another disease.”

“Other non-oncological applications that we deal with include some infections that are resistant to all types of anti-inflammatories, which are reduced by radiation, and sometimes also in the case of internal bleeding in various organs,” added the Intecnus director.

Intecnus has a third PET with MRI installed in Latin America (Fernando Calzada)

From pet technology to radiology

Referring to the state-of-the-art equipment in place at the institute, Rovere highlighted that Intecnus has its third PET with MRI machine installed in Latin America. It is a positron emission tomography, which, together with high-field magnetic resonance imaging (PET / MR), allows the evaluation of the functions of organs and tissues with great accuracy and provides an adequate diagnosis.

“We also have a cyclotron radiopharmaceutical facility that will allow us to produce radiopharmaceuticals. This will give us the possibility to use radioisotopes that have very short half-lives and cannot today reach Bariloche because of flight times,” he said. He noted, in particular, the condition of a radioactive substance, oxygen-15, which will allow studies of the perfusion of the heart muscle and brain. Expectations are set at the opening of Radiation Pharmacy this year.

Residency and majors

HR training, as we indicated, is another Intecnus focus. In 2022, the first resident of hybrid images entered there, obtained by combining metabolic images (PET) with anatomical images (CT, or MRI). The institute has also designed two residencies in radiotherapy and nuclear medicine, the first associated with the National University of Comahoe, and the second expected to be associated with the University of Buenos Aires (UBA).

Nuclear medicine is usually associated with oncology treatments, but its scope is much broader and includes cardiology, recognizing neurodegenerative diseases, renal, gastrointestinal and thyroid disorders, among others (Fernando Calzada)

“In addition, we have provided the Balseiro Institute, which is accredited to UNCuyo and CNEA, with a training program inspired by a project for the International Atomic Energy Agency: a clinical residency for medical physicists,” added Rouvier, who noted the shortage of this type of professional in general. nation. In turn, he indicated the intention to “establish links with the National Department of Health, with the expectation of obtaining some financial support for clinical stays”.

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An important issue is the housing deficit in Bariloche, identified by this medical center’s Director of Legal Affairs and Institutional Relations, Natasha Vasquez. “It is difficult for us to bring in already trained professionals, because it is difficult to find homes because of the competition that exists with housing for the tourism sector,” he said.

The truth is, Intecnus continues its commitment to training and research for the service of health. In just five years since its launch, it has demonstrated its profession of service and commitment to Argentine medical science.

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Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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