Technologist’s Guide

Radiation Protection and Dose Optimisation

October 2016

Since the beginning of the 20th century, ionising radiation has been employed in medicine for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. The belief that radioactive sources could heal many different diseases led to a rapid increase in the usage of radioactive material; in conjunction with the lack of knowledge of the biological effects of radiation, this resulted in many accidents and numerous pathologies in both patients and operators.

Ionising radiation procedures for medical purposes have been invaluable in improving patient care. Accordingly, the use of radiation in medicine has continued to increase over the years, accompanied by improvements in safety standards. Nuclear medicine (NM) has been deeply involved in this process. Both applications – diagnostic and therapeutic – showed great initial potential and important advances have repeatedly been achieved over the intervening decades.

The development of NM has been accompanied by great responsibility, since the safety of both the professional and the patient depends on the correct use of radiation. The professional should not be harmed by the radiation needed to perform each procedure and the patient should only be exposed to radiation after the benefit/risk ratio has been considered.

This year’s Technologist’s Guide aims to give an overview on the principles of radiation protection and to provide the professional with the knowledge required in order to act in accordance with these principles. A further intention is to set out the principles of dose optimisation. There is a consensus that all NM procedures must be justified; furthermore, the radiation used in each procedure must be carefully calculated and based on rigorous quality standards.

This book starts with overviews on the interaction of radiation with matter and the fundamentals of dosimetry. It ontinues by covering the international basic safety standards and radiobiology principles. The basic concepts of dose optimisation for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures involving the use of radionuclides are explained, and an individual chapter focuses specifically on dose optimisation in the paediatric population. After this, aspects of occupational radiation protection are covered, and finally the design of an NM department is discussed, keeping in mind the particularities that need to be considered in order to ensure compliance with radiation protection standards. Each chapter includes a description of the specific role of NMTs as main actors in procedures who also bear responsibility for the application of radiation protection in daily practice.

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