Patients are informed about potential delays when crossing international borders after having a nuclear medicine procedure
- Patients receiving diagnostic and therapeutic doses of radiopharmaceuticals have the potential to activate radiation detectors1.
- These patients are a potential cause of false alarms where sensitive radiation detectors are in use (e.g., border crossings, airports, traffic tunnels)
- The duration of time during which patients may trigger radiation alarms varies according to the radiopharmaceutical and dose, the sensitivity of detectors and the patient’s elimination rate and/or disease burden 1:
- As part of their preparation for the procedure, patients are educated about the risk of setting off radiation detectors and the potential for delay and inconvenience if travelling2.
- Institutions can assist patients and security personnel by providing patients with a letter that documents the procedure and provides contact information for the security agents to use.
- The letter will not prevent a patient from setting off a detector or from subsequent questioning, but will provide an explanation as to why the detector was activated3
- Feedback from certain land border crossings shows that patients may experience a delay of about 20-30 minutes before being allowed entrance into other countries3
- A letter should document the following3:
- Patient name
- Name and date of nuclear medicine procedure
- Name of radiopharmaceutical and administered activity
- Half-life of the radiopharmaceutical
- 24-hour contact information of the institution where the patient underwent the procedure
- The letter should be provided on institutional letter-head
- Patients are advised to carry the provided letter at all times when travelling and retain the letter for the time they have the potential to activate radiation detectors3. (See “Activation of radiation detectors” tab above)
- If a border or airport security personnel require a copy for retention, patients are advised to ask that a photocopy of the letter be made rather than relinquishing the original
Gangopadhyay KK. Triggering radiation alarms after radioiodine treatment. BMJ 2006;333:293.
Dauer LT, Williamson MJ, St. Germain J, Strauss HW. Tl-201 stress tests and homeland security. J Nucl Cardiol 2007;14(4):582-588.
Niagara Health System. What to Do after Having a Nuclear Medicine Scan. Available from: https://www.niagarahealth.on.ca/files/NuclearMedicinePost-ProcedureInstructions.pdf. [Accessed 4 Jan 2019]