The excretion of radiopharmaceuticals in human breast milk: additional data and dosimetry

Eur J Nucl Med. 1994 Feb;21(2):144-53. doi: 10.1007/BF00175762.


The amount of radioactivity excreted in breast milk following administration of 11 different radiopharmaceuticals, including technetium-99m labelled microspheres, pyrophosphate, diisopropyl-iminodiacetic acid (DISIDA) and sestamibi, has been measured. This report summarises the data collected from 60 patients. An effective decay constant for the series of samples from each patient was calculated from exponential curves fitted by least squares to the data. It is difficult to compare values from individual patients, since times of expression, volumes of milk and the activity administered are not uniform. In order to formulate reliable guidelines, we therefore calculated the total activity theoretically excreted in milk until complete decay of the radionuclide, which is usually higher than that actually measured over the actual period of collection. Of the various 99mTc compounds, pertechnetate clearly reaches the highest concentrations in breast milk. The wide variability of data from different patients who received the same radiopharmaceutical despite identical methods of sample collection and data processing confirms the impression gained from literature that transfer of radionuclides into milk varies greatly between individuals. Although we have calculated average values for each compound, very large standard deviations were obtained, and we believe that for radiation protection purposes, a "worst case" approach is the most appropriate. With new data available and the revision of ICRP recommendations, the guidelines applicable when radiopharmaceuticals are administered to breast-feeding mothers are reviewed. The effective dose resulting from close contact between patient and infant was included in these calculations. Breast feeding need not be interrupted after administration of 99mTc-DISIDA, -sulphur colloid, -gluconate and -methoxyisobutylisonitrile (MIBI). However, after administration of 99mTc-MIBI, close contact should be restricted. 99mTc-pyrophosphate and -microspheres require interruption periods of several hours. High activities of 99mTc-pertechnetate may require interruption longer than 2 days. For pertechnetate and 99mTc-labelled red blood cells, interruption of breast feeding with measurement of activity in expressed milk samples is recommended. Breast feeding is contra-indicated after administration of 67Ga and 131I. General guidelines regarding breast feeding after administration of radiopharmaceuticals are summarised.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*
  • Radioisotopes / pharmacokinetics*


  • Radioisotopes