IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Enhancing Nuclear Safety



Radioprotection associée aux nouvelles évolutions, diagnostiques et thérapeutiques, en médecine nucléaire

Journal title : Radioprotection
Volume : 41
Issue : 1
Pagination : 33-50
Publication date : 01/03/2006


Radiation protection for innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in nuclear medicine A real technological revolution has deeply modified the field of application and perspectives of nuclear medicine, and nuclear oncology in particular, during the past 5 years. Diagnostic applications such as positron emission tomography (PET) with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) have had a significant impact on the diagnostic strategy adopted by medical oncologists, with the addition of invaluable functional data to already available anatomical data provided by conventional imaging modalities. Numerous other 18F-labeled tracers currently under clinical evaluation have been developed to study various tumor functions (tumor proliferation, hypoxia, chemotherapy-induced apoptosis, etc.). These tracers may have a considerable impact on therapeutic strategies. Other positron-emitting radionuclides, such as copper-64, iodine-124, and yttrium-86 (whose respective half-lives are 12.7 hours, 4.2 days, and 14.7 hours) will soon be available for certain clinical indications, such as immuno-PET (with monoclonal antibodies or antibody fragments used as carriers) or pretreatment dosimetry, which cannot be performed with fluorine-18 due its short half-life. As far as therapeutic applications are concerned, the use of internal radiotherapy, which has been restricted to thyroid cancer for a long time, was recently extended to other cancers as new carriers, such as monoclonal antibodies (radioimmunotherapy) or peptides (radiopeptide therapy), new targeting methods (pretargeting), and new radionuclides, especially alpha particle emitters (alpha therapy), became available. These technological advances require that specific radiation safety regulations be implemented to protect nuclear medicine personnel, patients' close relatives, and the environment. Most current regulations concern diagnostic applications with technetium-99m and therapeutic applications with iodine-131. Regulations pertaining to the clinical use of 18F-FDG were recently enacted (2001). Regarding exposure nuclear medicine personnel, the amount of radioactivity used for therapeutic purposes is currently limited to 740 MBq, which requires that the patient be kept in a shielded room. Radiation exposure can be roughly estimated by measuring the exposure rate (in µSv/h) delivered at a distance of 1 meter from a source of one MBq. When considering both the exposure rate and half-life, it appears that similar doses of iron-52, yttrium-86, and iodine-124 deliver a high dose rate immediately after injection and during the following few hours. Current regulations on environmental exposure limit radioactivity levels in hospital sewage outfalls to 1000 Bq/L, for technetium 99m, and 100 Bq/L, for iodine-131. Forthcoming regulations for other radionuclides should not be established solely based on general rules such as the 100 Bq/L limit. Impact studies similar to those required in the nuclear industry, should be conducted.


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