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PET scans safety

PET scanning is invasive, in that radioactive material is injected into the subject. However the total dose of radiation is small, usually around 7 mSv. This can be compared to 2.2 mSv average annual background radiation in the UK, 0.02 mSv for a chest X-Ray, up to 8 mSv for a CT scan of the chest, 2-6 mSv per annum for aircrew, and 7.8 mSv per annum background exposure in Cornwall (Data from UK National Radiological Protection Board).

Because the half-life of 18F is about two hours, the prepared doses decay significantly during the working day. If the FDG is delivered to the scanning suite in the morning, the specific activity falls during the day, and a relatively larger volume of radiopharmaceutical must be injected in later patients to deliver the same radioactive dose.

The radioactive dose to the patient is small, however the dose to the operators is a limiting factor in the operation of a PET facility.

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