Radiopharmaceutical Therapy

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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 with I-131.

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 department.

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)

Patient control:

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.

Visitor control:

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.

Contamination control:

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 clothing***

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