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Patients receiving radioisotope scans "could trigger airport security alarms"

2 August, 2005

People having a
scan that involves radioisotopes should be warned that they could set
off security radiation alarms in airports for up to 30 days after the
procedure, according to a report in The Lancet.

Over
18 million diagnostic and therapeutic procedures involving
radioisotopes are carried out each year. PET (Positron Emission
Tomography) and SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography)
scans, sometimes performed during tests for epilepsy, involve
radioisotopes.

Richard Underwood, from the Royal Brompton Hospital
in London, and colleagues are calling for patients to be issued with an
information card after diagnostic or therapeutic procedures involving
radioisotopes as standard practice.

Professor Underwood commented:

"Stricter
measure, and more sensitive radiation detection systems, are being
deployed at airports worldwide. It is important to warn patients having
had a thallium scan that they may trigger radiation detectors for up to
30 days. It should be standard practice to issue patients with an
information card after diagnostic or therapeutic procedures involving
radioisotopes. The card should state the date and place of the
procedure, the radioisotope used and its half-life, potential duration
of radioactive emissions from the patient, and details on who to
contact for verification if necessary.

"Patient
information cards could lessen the impact of such false alarms and
avoid unnecessary interrogations by airport security personnel."