Answer to Question #10815 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
After a patient is injected with gallium-67 (67Ga), should a pregnant nurse be assigned to take care of that patient? Depending on the unit, a nurse could be providing care at a very close distance for suctioning, changing dressings, etc. A six-foot distance cannot always be maintained. The nurse might also work a 12-hour shift if the patient is in a critical care unit. Her time at the bedside would be longer. Is it safe for a pregnant nurse to be at the bedside?
This same question could be asked about a number of nuclear medicine imaging studies. With all such studies, the radionuclide administered will be eliminated over time due to physical decay and biological elimination.
The Food and Drug Administration information about 67Ga can be found at the following URL:
Using typical imaging administered activities, the dose to the ovaries of the patient is expected to be 14 mSv. It is reasonable to assume that the patient’s body absorbs at least half of the emissions that would be expected on the surface of the body. For someone standing at the bedside, these amounts would be further reduced as the distance from the patient increases. If there is a choice among various staff members, one would not routinely assign a pregnant woman to care for patients with radioactivity on board; however, this choice is not always possible. In addition to other considerations, radiation safety staff would need to discuss the number of such patients expected over a set time interval and may need to provide personnel monitors for the period of the pregnancy.
Given the caveats mentioned above, pregnant staff can care for these patients without exceeding permitted dose limits.
Jean St. Germain, CHP, DABMP, RMP