November 30, 2004

Thyroid Treatment May Activate Detectors

The Radiological Society of North America reports iodine therapy for thyroid patients may set off homeland security radiation detectors.

At its annual meeting in Chicago, radiologists said other nuclear medicine procedures, including FDG PET scans, bone scans and cardiac scans, might also trigger the monitors.

The nuclear medicine community has been aware that patients set off detectors, but now we expect it to become a more common occurrence with the increasing number of extremely sensitive portable Homeland Security radiation detectors deployed among security personnel, study author Lionel Zuckier said.

Zuckier, a radiology professor at the New Jersey Medical School-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and director of nuclear medicine and PET at University Hospital in Newark, N.J., said the study helps estimate how long the effect of treatment can last.

Radiation from FDG PET scans lasts less than 24 hours, but radiation from iodine therapy might last 95 days.

Physicians need to make their patients aware of the need to carry proper documentation following a nuclear medicine procedure, Zuckier said. This study suggests guidelines as to how long this documentation should be retained.