Radiation safety in the treatment of patients with thyroid diseases by radioiodine 131I : practice recommendations of the American Thyroid Association

Thyroid. 2011 Apr;21(4):335-46. doi: 10.1089/thy.2010.0403. Epub 2011 Mar 18.


Background: Radiation safety is an essential component in the treatment of patients with thyroid diseases by ¹³¹I. The American Thyroid Association created a task force to develop recommendations that would inform medical professionals about attainment of radiation safety for patients, family members, and the public. The task force was constituted so as to obtain advice, experience, and methods from relevant medical specialties and disciplines.

Methods: Reviews of Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations and International Commission on Radiological Protection [corrected] recommendations formed the basic structure of the recommendations. Members of the task force contributed both ideas and methods that are used at their respective institutions to aid groups responsible for treatments and that instruct patients and caregivers in the attainment of radiation safety. There are insufficient data on long-term outcomes to create evidence-based guidelines.

Results: The information was used to compile delineations of radiation safety. Factors and situations that govern implementation of safety practices are cited and discussed. Examples of the development of tables to ascertain the number of hours or days (24-hour cycles) of radiation precaution appropriate for individual patients treated with ¹³¹I for hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer have been provided. Reminders in the form of a checklist are presented to assist in assessing patients while taking into account individual circumstances that would bear on radiation safety. Information is presented to supplement the treating physician's advice to patients and caregivers on precautions to be adopted within and outside the home.

Conclusion: Recommendations, complying with Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations and consistent with guidelines promulgated by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement (NCRP-155), can help physicians and patients maintain radiation safety after treatment with ¹³¹I of patients with thyroid diseases. Both treating physicians and patients must be informed if radiation safety, an integral part of therapy with ¹³¹I, is to be attained. Based on current regulations and understanding of radiation exposures, recommendations have been made to guide physicians and patients in safe practices after treatment with radioactive iodine.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Family
  • Female
  • Government Agencies
  • Humans
  • Hyperthyroidism / radiotherapy
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*
  • Pregnancy
  • Radiation Protection / methods*
  • Safety
  • Societies, Medical
  • Thyroid Diseases / radiotherapy*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • United States


  • Iodine Radioisotopes