Is Thyroid Screening Necessary for Nuclear Medicine Personnel Receiving and Administering Capsules Containing Large Doses of 131I?
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The cost-effectiveness of a thyroid screening procedure for the detection of internal contamination of personnel working with large doses of encapsulated iodine-131 (131I) was examined by reviewing the results of screening measurements performed during 1 year. Thyroid burdens were measured by self-assessment using a sodium iodide (NaI) probe. Of 113 screening measurements, 101 indicated a negative thyroid content of 131I. The largest burden observed was statistically not different from zero. The count rate corresponding to the largest observed burden would represent an 131I content of 23 Bq, which is approximately 0.2% of the level at which results have to be reported to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Negative count rates arose because of a small overestimation of the background contribution that was measured with a neck phantom positioned in front of the thyroid probe. The cost of a thyroid screening program for personnel who handle encapsulated 131I is considerable, especially when the need for such measurements is questionable.
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