question about radiation exposure

  1. Hello fellow cardiac care nurses-

    I have a question for all of you. When our patients who go for adenosine thallium(or persantine thallium) tests.......when they come back are they radioactive? And if so are we unknowingly being exposed to radiation?

    Someone told me the amount of radiation these pt's are exposed to is MUCH more than a usual xray....and when they come back to the unit they "emit" radioactivity.

    I am concerned as I just heard this rumor and I am trying to get pregnant.

    Please share your knowledge with me. Much appreciated

  2. Visit mizjenny00 profile page

    About mizjenny00

    Joined: Sep '05; Posts: 5
    RN-Cardiac Unit/ICU stepdown; from US
    Specialty: 3 year(s) of experience


  3. by   OptimusPrime
    not true...

    The amount of radiation THEY are exposed to is usually about the same as an xray. And how could the amount they emit be dangerous for you, when the amount receive is so much larger, and it's safe for them?

    I worked in nuclear medicine doing adenosine stress test for years before becoming an RN. I was exposed to thousands of patients that had been emitting radiation, and we were all tested quarterly for our levels. We were always safe.

    You'll be fine.

    Also, I worked with a handful of pregnant nuclear techs over the years. Their pregnancys were uneventful and their kids are fine
  4. by   fiveofpeep
    As I've learned it, patients only emit radioactivity when some source of radiation is implanted or retained in them, i.e. cervical implant, or bladder instillation respectively.

    I thought when patient's get IV radioactive isotopes only their body fluids are radioactive for a couple hours...or am I wrong on this?
  5. by   dianah
    i found the following two helpful links:

    and, from the above link (emphasis and parentheses mine):

    no safety concern has been documented for healthcare workers or social contacts who come into close contact with patients after 201tl (201tl = thallium)-based testing. in contrast, the substantially higher doses of radiation that accompany 99mtc (99mtc =technetium = cardiolite, sestamibi, miraluna) injection may be of importance to care providers, family, and friends who come in close proximity to the patient after testing. the importance of exposure is time dependent and cumulative. healthcare workers should minimize the time they spend within 3 feet of patients injected with 99mtc on the day of the test.

    you may wish to ask one of the techs working in nuclear medicine (or one of the cardiologists; they should know) which isotope is routinely used for the mpis at your facility.
    our nuc. med. techs advise patients to stay 3ft away from children and pregnant women for 6 hr after the technetium injection

    half-life of thallium is ~3days.

    half-life of technetium is ~6hr.
  6. by   OptimusPrime
    We used technetium almost exclusively, barring the times the nuclear reactor in Canada failed, then we used Thallium. I would personally do anywhere from 15-20 stress tests/day. Each receiving technetium. I would stand only a few feet from the person, as they were on the treadmill and I was next to them getting BP's/ using computer. I always wore a radiation badge to measure the amount of exposure and they were tested quarterly. My exposure levels were never high. So, 15/day, 5 days/week, 50 weeks/year = roughly 3,500 radiated people/year that I was in close proximity to for about 20 minutes at a time, and my exposure numbers were fine.

    I never suffered any short term effects, such as being sick more often or anything like that. As far as long term effects, I guess we'll see, but so far so good.
  7. by   dianah
    OptimusPrime is, of course, correct.
    Those of us working in potential daily exposure areas are required to wear monitoring badges which are measured monthly.
    And, like OptimusPrime, my levels have never been remotely reportable (I work around fluoroscopy as well).
  8. by   Av03
    I've been a Nuclear Medicine Tech since 2006, and have always worked in Nuclear Cardiology. Radiation safety follows the principles of time, distance, and shielding. There is an inverse square law with radiation. When you double the distance, the radiation exposure from the patient is cut in half. We were always taught that pilots have more accumulation of radiation from atmospheric radiation compared to nuclear medicine techs. The highest does of radiation exposure for nurses are patients who have to take I 131 for thyroid cancer. Personally, I am trying to get a position at a Cardiology office doing stress testing as an RN in their Nuc department. Hope the interview goes well.

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