nuclear medicine, Computer screen with MRI, CT image scan of the brain.

Nuclear Medicine and Medical Ionising Radiation

Minimising risks in nuclear medicine with TÜV SÜD

Minimising risks in nuclear medicine with TÜV SÜD

Nuclear medicine is a specialised area of radiology covering a multitude of diagnostic, evaluation, and treatment procedures for various conditions such as cancer, heart disease, gastrointestinal and endocrine disorders. It involves radiation as well as the use of radioactive material (a radionuclide), combined with a carrier molecule, to detect a disease, target treatment and monitor recovery.

Radiopharmacies and nuclear medicine departments are commonplace in many hospitals and medical centres. However, like many facilities handling radioactive materials, the storage, use, and disposal of radioactive material must be strictly controlled. What’s more, protecting and monitoring staff, patients and the treatment environment must be a priority for any operator.

TÜV SÜD has a long history in both the nuclear and medical sectors, and so is uniquely placed to help hospitals and specialist care providers.

Specifying and ASSESSING THE DESIGN OF radio pharmaceutical facilities

Radiopharmacies and nuclear medicine departments needed to be carefully located within a facility and designed to suit the needs of the organisation and meet local regulations. Careful optimisation of the floor plan can minimise unnecessary exposure through shielding of the laboratory and the patients and prevent cross-contamination, allow for efficient cleaning and maintenance, and protect staff, patients, and the environment.

By designating treatment and imaging rooms as well as laboratories where radioactive materials are typically in use as “controlled areas”, you can not only limit access to authorised personnel, ensuring only staff trained in radiation protection can enter, but also monitor the length of time they stay to minimise dosage over a day.

TÜV SÜD has a team of specialist shield testers with experience of testing over 100 radiation treatment rooms. These include X-ray rooms, LINAC bunkers, PET Cyclotrons and Brachytherapy suites.


Choosing the specialist equipment 

Any equipment provided in a radio pharmacy or laboratory, such as mobile or fixed lead barriers, shielded containers, radiation and contamination monitors, fume cupboards and biohazard cabinets, must be specifically designed for the purpose as well as being checked and maintained regularly for compliance.

And of course, specialist clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn in controlled areas to protect workers handling radioactive materials. You should also have procedures in place that ensure laboratory coats, protective gloves and face masks are disposed of before staff leaving designated areas to avoid the possibility of cross contamination.


Dealing with radioactive clinical waste

Radioactive medical waste is typically classified as low-level waste, as the concentration of radionuclides is usually low. It comes in many forms – from used medical equipment to clothing and biological waste. It should be collected separately in clearly marked receptacles, with separate containers for radioactive sharps/needles and biowaste.

Radioactive waste should be secured and removed by trained personnel only. As many radioisotopes have half-lives of less than 90 days, you may wish to consider storing the material on-site if you have suitable facilities until radiation levels decline further. Alternatively, approved storage and disposal off-site in low-level waste landfills is an option.

Trust in TÜV SÜDs expertise in medicine and uses of ionising radiation

TÜV SÜD can help identify and mitigate risks of exposure from potential hazards in hospital radiopharmacies and radiotherapy and nuclear medicine departments. We can also advise you on how to protect your employees from overexposure to radiation using industry best practice, such as establishing and following procedures, routine monitoring and specialist training.

TÜV SÜD’s years of experience means you can take advantage of our expert knowhow in planning or improving radiopharmacy facilities as well as safe, documented compliance to radioactive waste disposal regulations.


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