Radiation safety measures in diagnostic nuclear medicine, based on the potential radiation dose emitted by radioactive patients
Abstract Objective: To measure the potential radiation dose emitted by patients who have recently undergone diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures, in order to establish optimal radiation safety measures for such procedures. Materials and Methods: We evaluated the radiation doses emitted by 175 adult patients in whom technetium-99m, iodine-131, and fluorine-18 radionuclides were administered for bone, kidney, heart, brain, and whole-body scans, as measured with a radiation detector. Those values served as the basis for evaluating whole-body radiopharmaceutical clearance, as well as the risk for the exposure of others to radiation, depending on the time elapsed since administration of the radiopharmaceutical. Results: The mean time to clearance of the radiopharmaceuticals administered, expressed as the effective half-life, ranged from 1.18 ± 0.30 h to 11.41 ± 0.02 h, and the mean maximum cumulative radiation dose at 1.0 m from the patients was 149.74 ± 56.72 µSv. Even at a distance of 0.5 m, the cumulative dose was found to be only half and one tenth of the limits established for exposure of the general public and family members/caregivers (1.0 mSv and 5.0 mSv per episode, respectively). Conclusion: Cumulative radiation doses emitted by patients immediately after diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures are considerably lower than the limits established by the International Commission on Radiological Protection and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and precautionary measures to avoid radiation exposure are therefore not required after such procedures.