Techniques for radioactive decontamination in nuclear medicine

Semin Nucl Med. 1991 Jan;21(1):82-9. doi: 10.1016/s0001-2998(05)80080-7.


Working with unsealed radioactive sources in nuclear medicine carries the potential risk of contamination. Careful design of a department and its operational procedures will minimize but never completely eliminate the possibility of such incidents occurring. Contingency planning forms as important a part of handling such incidents as the procedures to reduce the hazard once an incident has occurred. It should include anticipating where such incidents are likely to occur, training and exercising staff in the appropriate procedures to deal with these incidents, providing a comprehensive decontamination kit, and implementing a routine contamination monitoring survey. Assessing the magnitude of the radiation hazard and the effect of decontamination efforts, containing the spread of contamination, minimizing the radiation dose to individuals, and continuing to decontaminate to the lowest level possible are principles to follow in managing any incident. Nuclear medicine staff should be familiar with techniques for decontaminating different anatomical sites on the body; for eliminating or reducing the uptake of radioactivity absorbed into the body; and for decontaminating dry and wet surfaces, equipment, clothing, and bedding. Radiopharmaceutical dispensing procedures, ventilation scanning, and decontaminating 131I treatment areas are identified as the most likely causes of body surface and internal contamination of nuclear medicine staff.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decontamination / methods*
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Medicine / standards*
  • Radioisotopes*


  • Radioisotopes