Answer to Question #10980 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Nuclear Medicine Patient Issues — Therapeutic Nuclear Medicine

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


If radioactive iodine treatment is so safe, why do they have people take so many precautions? What could happen if a person was exposed to another person who had radioactive iodine treatment?


The majority of medical health physicists and nuclear medicine physicians believe that radioactive iodine treatment is safe if patients follow the instructions that they are given before and after treatment. Most facilities require a patient to sign a form that says that they understand the instructions and will follow them.

The main concerns with outpatient treatment is for the patient to ensure that they don't spend lots time close to infants, small children, and pregnant women for the first few days. Also, they should not share food, such as a sandwich or a drink, with family members since their saliva will contain radioactive iodine for the first few days

A person should not have to spend lots of time with a radioiodine patient immediately after therapy. If the patient needs extra care, hospitals will treat in-house and release the patient after a day or two since most of the radioiodine would have been excreted in the urine by then.

The FAQ page on our website provides more information that you may find helpful.

Marcia Hartman, MS

Answer posted on 13 June 2014. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.