Humans are all exposed to many different forms of radiation - radio waves, microwaves, ultraviolet, X-rays, etc. The form of radiation involved in Nuclear Medicine is called ionising radiation. This article will provide advice to haemodialysis staff that may have to carry out dialysis on patients who have received ionising radiation as part of a medical investigation. All patients who are referred to the Nuclear Medicine Department for imaging procedures are given an injection of a pharmaceutical preparation with a radioactive compound attached to it. The vast majority of the patients are studied using Technetium -99m as a radioactive tag but on occasions, compounds like Iodine -123 and Gallium- 67 are also used. The different radioactive materials have different physical decay rates. Following administration of the pharmaceutical agent, the patient is deemed “radioactive”. For this reason, unless it is clinically justified, haemodialysis should not be performed on patients in the 24 h period after a nuclear medicine injection. However, if haemodialysis is required, certain protocols must be carried out, because some risks are associated with the procedure. The main risks associated with these patients are external irradiation, internal contamination and fluid over load. Due to the short half-life of the radioactivity, these risks, in general, only warrant control in the 24 h period following the radioactive injection.
Key words: Haemodialysis patients, radioactivity
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