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Guidelines for Patients Receiving RadioIodine Treatment

March 5, 2018 at exactly 9:45AM I took the pill.
#OfficiallyRadioActive

Warning: Highly Radioactive at 125mci
Many of you might be thinking, what's the specific treatment that I am talking about on my Facebook status this morning. Questions like, should you be taking Chemotherapy and what's with this RAI, RadioActive Iodine Treatment? Will you have another surgery?

The point of this article is to get you an idea as to what RadioActive Iodine Therapy is and the guidelines for patients receiving this type of treatment. I am currently admitted at Room 369 at Perpetual Succour Hospital, Gorordo Ave, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu

Patient Preparation:
  • At least 4 hours fasting. May take light meal before 6AM
  • Bring the following prior to admission:
    • 3-5 containers of mineral water in 5 liters each
    • Sour or menthol candies (non-iodine candies), please check the labels
    • No seafoods or iodine containing foods
  • Proceed to Admitting section on the scheduled date and time.
  • Present admitting orders to admitting section personnel

Guidelines for Patients Receiving RadioIodine Treatment

(Left) A warning sign for non patient not to enter the RadioActive rooms. (Right) A radioactive measuring device

Why do you receive RadioIodine Treatment?
You receive radioiodine because you and your doctor have agreed that is the most appropriate treatment for your thyroid condition. Most of the radiation from the radioiodine is absorbed by your thyroid grand and interferes with the function of the thyroid cells. This is the desired and beneficial medical effect of the treatment. However, some of the radiation leaves your body, and individuals who are in close physical contact with you may be exposed to small amounts. There is no evidence that such exposure has ever caused any harm. Nonetheless, efforts should be made to avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation.


How does radioiodine work?

The thyroid gland accumulates the iodine in the food that enters the body and uses this to perform its normal function, which is to make thyroid hormone. Radioiodine is similarly collected by the thyroid glad. The radiation given off by this form of iodine decreases the function of the thyroid cells and inhibits their ability to grow. This is the desired medical effect and the reason you are given this medication. Radioiodine treatment is a common and well accepted form of treatment that has been used all over the world for more than 30 years.

Most of the radiation from the radioiodine is received by your thyroid gland. However, the other tissues in your body receive some incidental radiation. This small amount of radiation, however, does not produce any adverse effect.

How long does the radioiodine stay in your body?

The radioiodine from your treatment remains in your body only temporarily. Most of the radioiodine not absorbed by your thyroid gland is eliminated during the first 2 days after your treatment. Radioiodine leaves your body primarily through your urine, but very small amount may leave through your saliva, sweat and feces. The amount of radioiodine remaining in your thyroid tissue is responsible for the desired medical effect. However, this amount also decreases rapidly. This means that the possibility of radiation exposure to you and others is reduced within time. At the end of your treatment, no radioiodine remains in your body.

Hallway of the 4 rooms allocated primarily for RAI Treatment at Perpetual Succour Hospital with proper warnings and disposable radioactive bags allotted for each room.
How can others be exposed to radiation from the radioiodine given to you?

Exposure to radiation from the radioiodine in your body may occur if other people remain physically close to you for a long period of time. Contamination with radioiodine can occur if it is deposited in any place where other people may have contact with it. For instance, if some of the radioiodine in your saliva gets in the bathroom sink as you brush your teeth and then on to someone's hands, contamination has occurred.

Radioiodine disappears by itself as part of the physical processes that make it radioactive. For example, it does not remain on the sink indefinitely because its quantity is reduced by one-half every 8 days. This is the meaning of the phrase the "half-life" of radioiodine is 8 days.

How can you reduce radiation exposure to others?

1. DISTANCE - The greater the distance you are from others, the less radiation they receive. Even an increase in distance of a few feet greatly reduces the exposure. So avoid close contact with other longer than is necessary.

2. TIME - Radiation exposure to others depends on how long you remain close to them. Try to minimize the time spent in close contact with others.

3. HYGIENE - Good hygiene minimizes the possibility that other people are contaminated with the radioiodine that leaves your body. Since most of the radioiodine leaves your body through your urine, good toilet hygiene and careful and thorough washing of your hands reduce the possibility of contamination.

Hallway view from the Nurses's Station