[Histonet] Re: Radioactive specimens policy

Bob Richmond rsrichmond <@t> gmail.com
Thu Sep 4 12:16:28 CDT 2014

Amanda Reichard, HTL (ASCP)cm, at Licking Memorial Health Systems in
Newark, Ohio asks:

>>Would anyone be willing to share their policy/procedure for radioactive
specimen acceptance, transport, storage, and disposal? - We are currently
revising our policy and would like to see what precautions, if any, other
institutions establish in the laboratory.<<

I've never seen a written policy - these questions are customarily swept
under the rug - but I've seen references though I have no very current ones.

By far the most common specimens are breast masses and sentinel lymph nodes
with technetium 99m, which has a half-life of only 6 hours. These specimens
don't require any special handling beyond Universal Precautions.

I haven't been able to get a lot of information about the radioactive
"seeds" used to treat prostate cancer, and occasionally received in TURP
specimens. The isotopes used have half-lives of around 70 days, so they
would be regarded as being potentially hazardous for around two years (ten
half-lives). It usually takes a phone call to find out how long ago the
"seeds" were put in.

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Maryville TN

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