Nationwide Survey on Implementation of 2011 Nuclear Regulatory Commission Policy on Release of Patients After 131I Therapy for Thyroid Cancer

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine








131I therapy; differentiated thyroid cancer; nonprivate residence; radiation safety


© 2020 by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. The objective of this nationwide survey was to evaluate whether there has been a change in the practice regarding hospital release of differentiated thyroid cancer patients treated with 131I since the publication of Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regulatory Issue Summary 2011-01 addressing patient release. Methods: A survey was emailed to approximately 25,000 members of ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association, Inc., and was available online from March to August 2018. Responses were included from adult patients regarding their most recent 131I therapy received between 2011 and 2018 ("after 2011"). Responses to this survey were compared with those of a similar previous survey for 131I therapies received between 1997 and 2009 ("before 2009"). Results: Of the 2,136 responses, 1,111 met the inclusion criteria. A similar percentage (∼98%) of patients were given oral or written radiation safety instructions (RSIs) after 2011 and before 2009, with a shift away from nuclear medicine physicians providing instructions after 2011 (43%) in comparison with before 2009 (54%; P < 0.001). More patients were able to discuss and individualize the RSIs after 2011 (67%) than before 2009 (29%; P < 0.001). However, 2% of patients do not recall ever receiving RSIs after 2011. After 2011, more patients were treated as outpatients (87%) than before 2009 (66%; P < 0.001). For outpatients, more patients were discharged within 30 min after receiving 131I therapy after 2011 (78%) than before 2009 (72%; P = 0.002). The same percentage (0.6%) of patients traveled more than 2 h with at least 2 occupants in the vehicle within approximately 1 m of the patient after 2011 and before 2009. Immediately after therapy, a similar percentage of patients stayed in a nonprivate residence after 2011 (4%) and before 2009 (5%; P = 0.28). Of the 27 outpatients released within 30 min to nonprivate residences, 2 patients received 5.55-11.1 GBq (150-299 mCi) of 131I. Conclusion: This survey suggests that since publication of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regulatory Issue Summary 2011-01 on patient release after radioiodine therapy, there have been improvements in some radiation safety practices on release of outpatients, as well as improvements in patient compliance on travel and lodging.

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