Radiopharmaceutical Therapy (Nuclear Medicine)
Patients having their thyroids removed because of cancer are frequently
treated with radioactive iodine (I-131) to eliminate any cancerous cells that
may remain. I-131 is given in the form of capsules or liquid. Patients who are
having their bone marrow ablated are given large doses of I-131 by labeling
I-131 and injecting the radionuclide into the patient. After the I-131 is
absorbed into the bloodstream, a ll bodily fluids will become contaminated
I-131 therapy treatments are normally performed on an inpatient basis.
However, if appropriate criteria are met, patients may be treated as outpatients
provided the patient is given specific written instructions designed to keep
radiation exposures to others as low as possible. In these cases the patient is
given the I-131, along with written instructions, in the Nuclear Medicine
If patients are treated as inpatients they must stay in one of the designated
lead lined rooms until they fall below a specified radiation level. The RSO or
Nuclear Medicine staff will set-up the room prior to the treatment by covering
the floor and other objects with plastic and placing a mobile lead at the
bedside. The I-131 capsules will be brought to the room and administered by the
Nuclear Medicine staff.
I-131 (capsules or liquid)
Once the I-131 has been administered, patients should
not leave the room, except for imaging at the Nuclear Medicine department, until
measurements performed by RSO or Nuclear Medicine staff indicate the patient is
below the applicable radiation level. Patients will be escorted by Nuclear
Medicine staff to the department.
No visitors should enter the room. All visitors should maintain as much
distance as possible from the patient, as well as stay behind the lead
shielding at the door. Staff is encouraged to perform as much patient
care as possible without entering the room. Staff that need to enter
the room must wear protective shoe covers, a gown and gloves.
Everyone entering a patient room must put on
shoe covers, a gown and gloves. These items must be removed when exiting the
room and placed in waste containers lined with plastic. These containers are
located in the patient room near the door.
If you suspect you may have contaminated yourself , wash the
"contaminated" area with a lot of water and call the RSO or Nuclear Medicine.
If you believe you are still contaminated, call nuclear medicine immediately, put some
greasy hand lotion on the contaminated area and put gloves on or cover the area
with a plastic bag.
If your clothes become contaminated, cover them with scrubs or lab coat and
contact nuclear medicine.
*** NOTE: I-131 can be very difficult to remove from skin and