[Histonet] Re: Sentinel nodes

Bob Richmond rsrichmond <@t> gmail.com
Thu May 29 18:47:57 CDT 2014

An anonymous inquirer asks:

>>I am hoping that someone would share their policy/procedures on sentinel
lymph nodes. In particular, documenting that all staff and couriers know
that they may be exposed to low levels of radiation.<<

Sentinel lymph nodes, and the associated lumpectomy specimens, contain a
small amount of radioactive material, technetium 99m sulfur colloid. Gamma
emitter 99Tc has a half-life of only six hours, and exposes you to a
negligible amount of radiation - you could eat the patient's entire dose
and it wouldn't do you harm. The histotechnologist and the pathologist do
not need any special precautions to handle this material - in particular,
there's no need to delay processing it for several days. All of this has
been pretty much standard procedure for a good many years.

I've never seen any warning issued that the material is radioactive, and
I've seen a considerable number of them in many institutions and in several
US states. If you're dealing with a local bureaucratic requirement, you
could challenge it.

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Maryville TN

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