Radiopharmaceutical Doses Back in Spotlight

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One dose size does not fit all, but some imaging professionals have not gotten the message. Despite almost 16,000 pledges to Image Wisely, Richard L. Morin, PhD, FACR, laments that some nuclear medicine specialists still administer radiopharmaceuticals in the way they were trained. “And often, that might mean you get the same amount for everybody,” says Morin, co-chair of Image Wisely and a medical physicist at the Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. “And that is not necessarily the right thing to do, particularly when imaging pediatric patients.” In response to the ongoing challenge, Image Wisely is collaborating with the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI), SNMMI Technologist Section, and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC), to create easily accessible online educational materials that help providers use the lowest radiopharmaceutical dose necessary. Physicians, medical physicists, and imaging technologists are encouraged to visit to review these materials for use in clinical practice. Morin hopes the new resources can join with other elements such as the Dose Index Registry, which has almost 600 contributing institutions to date. “Throughout our profession, there is certainly more awareness of radiation exposure in medical imaging than in the past,” says Morin, who has practiced for more than three decades. “The culture regarding radiation safety, and the proper use of radiation, has changed dramatically in the United States.” Educating ordering physicians is the next challenge, because so much has changed in the last decade. “Proper ordering is something that Image Wisely will address,” adds Morin. “One of the next phases concerns the non imaging physicians. That will eventually dovetail nicely with a campaign out of the American Heart Association called Choosing Wisely, which has a similar idea.” The new Image Wisely nuclear medicine initiative urges nuclear medicine providers to:
  • perform nuclear medicine procedures only when clinically indicated;
  • individualize administered doses based on the specific clinical task;
  • employ maneuvers to minimize radiation dose; and
  • familiarize themselves with recommended administered activities.