Radioactive Iodine Therapy

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What happens during Radioactive Iodine Therapy?

The Nuclear Medicine physician will give you the dose in a solution or capsule, which you will swallow with a glass of water. To reduce radiation exposure to others, your Nuclear Medicine physician will ask you to take certain safety precautions that include:

  • If you took radioactive iodine doses greater than 30mCi, you will have to be admitted in the hospital.
  • Don't eat any solid food for 2 hours after treatment. Drink plenty of water and chew lemon candies.
  • Stay at least 3 feet away from others for at least 2 days after treatment. Do not go into the same room with any infant or child as well as pregnant persons.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet, flushing at least twice.

How do I prepare for the therapy?

  • Do not eat seafood for three days before treatment.
  • Stop taking anti-thyroid drugs (Methimazole, PTU) at least three days before treatment.
  • You may need to undergo a thyroid uptake as a preliminary procedure to determine the proper doses of iodine required.
  • If you are a woman of childbearing age, you will be required to take a pregnancy test to be certain that you are not pregnant.

What is Radioactive Iodine Ablation?

Radioactive Iodine ablation is a treatment for thyroid cancer administered after thyroid surgery by the Nuclear Medicine physician on orders from your doctor.

You will be given capsules or solutions to swallow with water. You will be instructed to increase your fluid intake after this procedure and remain in the hospital until your body has passed out most of the radioactivity, usually after two days.

What precautions are involved with Iodine Ablation?

  • If you are a woman of childbearing age, you will be required to take a pregnancy test to be certain that you are not pregnant.
  • After the Iodine is administered, you will be required to keep your door closed. You will be isolated and a sign indicating radioactivity will be placed on your door.
  • All personal items must be disposable. All trash, linen and food trays must remain in your room until monitored by the Nuclear Medicine Department.
  • You will be required to wear a hospital gown.
  • If you vomit or spill urine on the floor, call your nurse immediately.
  • Visitors who are pregnant or under 18 will not be permitted. Visitors must stay ten feet away from you and can only stay 15 minutes.
  • After using the toilet, flush it three times. Wash your hands thoroughly, rinsing the sink carefully after each use.

Excerpt from Radioactive Iodine Therapy, St. Luke's Medical Center advertorials.