Radiation absorbed dose to the embryo/fetus from radiopharmaceuticals

Health Phys. 1997 Nov;73(5):756-69. doi: 10.1097/00004032-199711000-00003.


Radiation protection practice requires the knowledge of estimated absorbed radiation doses to aid in the understanding of the potential detriment of various exposures. In nuclear medicine, the radiation doses to the internal organs of the subject are commonly calculated using the MIRD methods and equations. The absorbed dose to the embryo or fetus has long been an area of concern. The recent release of the pregnant female phantom series, and its incorporation into the MIRDOSE 3 computer software, has made possible the estimation of absorbed doses from radionuclides in the body to the fetus in early pregnancy and at 3, 6, and 9 mo gestation. A survey of several major medical institutions was made to determine the radiopharmaceuticals which might be given, whether intentionally or not, to women of childbearing years. Biokinetic data for these radiopharmaceuticals were gathered from various documents and other resources, and the absorbed doses to the embryo and fetus at these different stages of gestation from radiations originating within the mother's organs were estimated. In addition, information about activity distributed within the placenta and fetus was included where quantitative data were available. These absorbed dose estimates can be used to evaluate the risk associated with the use of different radiopharmaceuticals so that a more informed evaluation of the risks and benefits of the different procedures may be made. Further research is needed into the mechanisms and quantitative aspects of the placental transfer of many radiopharmaceuticals.

MeSH terms

  • Embryo, Mammalian*
  • Female
  • Fetus*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Models, Biological
  • Phantoms, Imaging*
  • Placenta / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Radiation Protection
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / adverse effects
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacokinetics*
  • Software
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Radiopharmaceuticals