Extremity exposure of nuclear medicine workers: results from an EANM and EURADOS survey

Lídia Cunha, Jérémie Dabin, Sigrid Leide-Svegborn, Alessandra Zorz, Robert Kollaard, Peter Covens

Research outputpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Extremity exposure during the handling of unsealed radioactive sources is a matter of concern for nuclear medicine workers. Next to 99mTc and 18F, other radiopharmaceuticals have seen an increase in their use over the last decade. However, limited information on their impact on extremity dose is available. This study aimed to gain insight into the status of extremity exposure and dose monitoring in Europe. METHODS: A survey was conducted at the end of 2020 among the European Association of Nuclear Medicine community. It contained 24 questions considering department characteristics, worker tasks, dosimeter use, typical worker extremity dose, department workload for selected radionuclides (99mTc, 18F, 68Ga, 177Lu, 90Y) and protective measures. RESULTS: A total of 106 replies were received, 92% of which were from Europe. About half of the respondents were from academic hospitals. Ninety-nine departments implement extremity dose monitoring for a total of 1335 workers. Most workers (95%) wear a ring dosimeter, generally on the non-dominant hand, and 44% on the index finger. Monthly doses were generally low (median values at different ring position: 0.4-1.8 mSv), although higher doses were reported (20.8-38.8 mSv). About 1/3 of workers performed the full task range (preparation, dispensing, and administration). Administration is associated with significantly lower extremity doses. Interestingly, no correlation between department workload and collective dose was found. The adoption of vial and syringe shielding, as well as distance tools, was common. The workers dispensing 99mTc without syringe shielding or PET nuclides without automated system received a significantly higher dose. Handling 68Ga, 177Lu and 90Y did not appear to have an impact on the reported doses. CONCLUSIONS: Protective measures play a significant role in lowering extremity doses, while department workload and more recently introduced radionuclides seem not to be major dose determinants.

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