Diagnostic nuclear medicine and risk for the fetus

Eur J Nucl Med. 1998 Feb;25(2):193-9. doi: 10.1007/s002590050215.


The possible detrimental effects on the developing embryo subsequent to irradiation are discussed. The doses to the embryo or fetus encountered for the most common procedures in diagnostic nuclear medicine are evaluated with respect to the threshold doses and the risks per cGy. The threshold dose for fatal and non-fatal malformations or other defects is, at the lowest estimate, 5-10 cGy. The dose which the embryo or fetus receives from diagnostic nuclear medicine is below 1 cGy. For the induction of fatal cancer and for genetic defects no threshold dose is assumed. The risk for the induction of cancer is 0.03%-0.05% per cGy. The risk for the induction of genetic defects is even lower (0.024%-0.099% per cGy). It is concluded that for common diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures the risk of detrimental effects on the embryo or fetus due to radiation is negligible. On the basis of present knowledge there are no radiation safety indications for abortus provocatus as a consequence of a diagnostic nuclear medicine study.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Radiation-Induced / embryology
  • Abnormalities, Radiation-Induced / genetics
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fetus / radiation effects*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / embryology
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Uterus / radiation effects


  • Radiopharmaceuticals