Radio Iodine Therapy

Radio iodine I-131 Treatment

Guidelines for Patients

What is Radioiodine? Radio iodine Therapy (Sodium I-131) is a form of radiation therapy that has been used for many years to treat thyroid conditions. It is safe and effective but requires patient to observe certain precautions to decrease the small amount of radiation that other people may receive from patient’s body and bodily fluids.

How long does the radioiodine stay in body? Radioiodine stays in body for only a short time. Most of the radioiodine that does not go to thyroid tissue will be eliminated from body during the first few days after treatment. Radioiodine leaves body primarily through urine, but very small amounts can be found in saliva, sweat and bowel movements.

How can one reduce radiation exposure to others? Radiation exposure to other people can be reduced by keeping a reasonable distance between patient and others and keeping the time one is close to others to a minimum. Treating doctor should review the following instructions and answer all the questions. It is important to tell doctor if you will not be able to follow all of these instructions.

These instructions apply if patients are returning to own home after treatment using private transportation. Patient should ask his/her doctor for additional instructions if patients are planning to use public transportation or stay in a hotel or other non private lodging.

First 8 Hours: Drink one glass of water each hour and use the bathroom as soon as possible when one needs to empty bladder. Men should sit on the toilet while urinating to decrease splashing. Use a tissue to wipe up any urine on the toilet bowel and flush twice. Wash your hands and rinse the sink.

Maintain a distance of at least 3 feet from all people. If possible you should drive home alone. If it is not possible to drive alone, you should choose the seat that keeps as much distance as possible between you and the other passengers. You should not use public transportation.

First two days:

  • Do not share cups, glasses, plates or eating utensils. Wash items promptly after using. Other people may use items after they are washed.
  • Do not share towels or wash clothes.
  • Flush the toilet twice and rinse the sink and tub after use.
  • Wash your towels, bed linens, under wear and any clothing stained with urine or sweat.

First Week:

  • Arrangements should be made for others to provide childcare for infants and very young children.
  • Sleep alone for 7 days unless otherwise instructed by the doctor.
  • Avoid kissing and physical contact with others and maintain maximum distance from women who are pregnant and children under 18 years old, avoid meeting them.
  • Avoid activities where you may be close to others for more than 5 minutes, for example, movie theaters, sporting events and public transportation.

Additional Instructions for women who are breastfeeding: Nursing Mothers must stop breastfeeding before one can be treated with radioiodine. If possible one should stop breastfeeding for 6 weeks prior to treatment. One should not resume breast feeding after treatment for your current child, but you may safely breastfeed babies you may have in the future. Failure to follow this guidance may result in permanent damage to the thyroid gland of the nursing infant or child.

Pregnancy: Radioiodine treatment should not be given during pregnancy. Tell the doctor if you are pregnant or could be pregnant. If you are planning to become pregnant, you should wait at least 06 months to one year after treatment to ensure your thyroid hormone level is normal and that you do not need additional treatment. Consult your doctor.

Other things you should know during the first week after treatment: Small amounts of radiation from the body may trigger radiation monitors at airports, border crossings, government buildings, hospitals and waste disposal sites for up to 3 months after treatment. Ask the doctor for advice if one is going in these areas.

The doctor can provide you with a letter describing your medical treatment if one cannot avoid these areas.

Discarded items that are heavily stained with urine saliva, Nasal secretions, sweat or blood may trigger alarms at waste disposal sites. Ask your Doctor for advice on how to safely dispose of these items.