Radioactivity After Nuclear Medicine Tests

Content Contributor: OncoLink
Last Reviewed: January 7, 2013

Question:

For procedures in nuclear medicine or Interventional radiology where radioactive dyes or beads are used/injected, does that make a person radioactive? What precautions should be taken and for how long?

Answer:

Katie Fanslau, RN, MSN, Nurse in Nuclear Medicine at Penn Medicine responds.

Yes, the injections in nuclear medicine make you radioactive, but precautions depend on what agent is being used. For diagnostic testing in nuclear medicine, there are no radiation safety precautions because there is only enough radiation given to image the patient. For nuclear therapies, the precautions given are dependent on the therapy and their respective half-lives (all radiation decays over time). For example, for I 131 MIBG therapy, patients are advised to avoid prolonged close contact with people - especially children and pregnant women for 7 days. There are also precautions related to your clothing, linens, showering, and toileting.

The center where you are treated will give you information about the precautions you need to follow depending on what treatment you received and the doses you were given.

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