Are nuclear medicine diagnostic tests dangerous?

Most nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures involve the administration of a radiopharmaceutical (a pharmaceutical including a radioactive material) into a vein and imaging of the photon emissions from the radioactive material. This is a routine procedure, which has been around in various forms (e.g. bone scan, detection of cancer, study of heart and brain) for more than 30 years. Radiation doses from such procedures are quite low (in the order of few millisieverts [mSv], which is roughly equivalent to two years’ exposure to natural background radiation) and is not a hazard to the patient or others. Patients are radioactive for up to a few days (depending of the radiopharmaceutical used), which can be measured if they are near any typical radiation detectors.

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