Radiation exposure of patients and personnel from a PET/CT procedure with 18F-FDG

Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2010 Apr-May;139(1-3):208-13. doi: 10.1093/rpd/ncq026. Epub 2010 Feb 18.


The positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) camera is a combination of a PET camera and a CT. The image from the PET camera is based on the detection of radiation that is emitted from a radioactive tracer, which has been given to the patient as an intravenous injection. The radiation that is emitted from the radioactive tracer is more energetic than any other radiation used in medical diagnostic procedures and this requires special radiation protection routines. The CT image is based on the detection of radiation produced from an X-ray tube and transmitted through the patient. The radiation exposure of the personnel during the CT procedure is generally very low. Regarding radiation exposure of the patient, it is important to notice whether a CT scan has been performed prior to the PET/CT in order to avoid any unnecessary irradiation. The total effective dose to the patient from a PET/CT procedure is approximately 10 mSv. The major part comes from internal irradiation due to radiopharmaceuticals within the patients (e.g. (18)F-FDG: approximately 6-7 mSv), and a minor part is due to the CT scan (low-dose CT scan: approximately 2-4 mSv). If a full diagnostic CT investigation is performed, the effective dose may be considerably higher. If the patient is pregnant, a PET/CT procedure should be avoided or postponed, unless it is vital for the patient. An interruption in breastfeeding is not necessary after a PET/CT procedure of the nursing mother. Close contact between the patient and a small child should however be avoided for a couple of hours after the administration of the radiopharmaceutical. The radiation dose to the personnel arises mainly due to handling of the radiopharmaceuticals (syringe withdrawal, injection, waste handling, etc.) and from close contact to the patient. This radiation dose can be limited by using the inverse-square law, i.e. by using the fact that the absorbed dose decreases substantially with increasing distance between the radiation source and the personnel.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / analysis*
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Pregnancy
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Radiation Protection / methods*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / analysis
  • Sweden
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Whole-Body Counting / methods*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18