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Mobile PET/CT staff more exposed to radiation

UK researchers call for more staff dose awareness and training when it comes to mobile PET/CT scanners, after their study investigated radiation exposure doses to technical staff involved in the various phases of patient scanning, in special during patient injection. The work, led by Mr. Khalid Alsafi from the Department of Physics of the University of Surrey, Guildford, was presented on Wednesday at the UK Radiological Congress 2007.

Static PET/CT facilities in the UK are limited - there are less than 20 scanners in England - which has resulted in unfavourable waiting lists. Mobile PET/CT units can be considered as a helpful solution because they can offer access to a large number of locations, but the unit design, workload and staffing patterns are different from those used in static sites, often resulting in higher dose levels for technical staff operating mobile scanners.

In this investigation, 118 PET/CT patient scanning episodes (56 and 62 in mobile and static units, respectively) were observed, which the team divided in six phases to allow for more detailed analysis of technical staff dose and exposure time. These were recorded using well calibrated electronic personal dosemeters (EPDs).

The data was then analysed to attain the significance of the various activities. The average staff dose per patient during the injection phase was comparable - 2.3 mSv in mobile units and 2.79 mSv in static facilities. However, journey to the W.C. in mobile unit contributes significantly to the increase in staff doses, resulting in 20 per cent increase in the overall dose burden.

"More staff dose awareness and training, as well as the use of domestic helpers in escorting patients for the W.C., can reduce technical staff doses significantly and keep them below the level of classification, 6 mSv per year", said the authors. "Technical staffing levels and the location of the W.C. can also play an important role in maintaining lower radiation exposure levels."

Stuart Miller | alfa
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