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Keywords:

  • PET;
  • positron emission tomography;
  • radiation dose;
  • small animal;
  • veterinary medicine

The occupational external radiation dose to human medical personnel from positron emission tomography (PET) radiopharmaceuticals has been documented, but to date no corresponding veterinary staff dose data are available. Electronic personal dosimeters (EPDs) were used in this study to measure the per-patient external radiation doses to veterinary staff using a PET/CT (PET combined with computed tomography) protocol in which the patient radiopharmaceutical dose was injected after anesthetic induction. Radiation doses were recorded for the nuclear medicine technologists, the on-duty anesthesiology technologist, and an occasional observer from 19 veterinary 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET/CT studies. Patient mass range was 2.8 to 61.0 kg (22.3 kg mean) and injected activity averaged 6 MBq kg−1. The dose range received by nuclear medicine technologists per procedure was 0–30 μSv (9.1 μSv mean), by anesthetists 1–22 μSv (8.2 μSv mean), and by the observer 0–2 μSv (0.5 μSv mean). In both feline and canine studies, placement of the EPD on staff was a significant predictor of radiation dose. Additional significant predictors of staff radiation dose from canine studies included job position and injected activity. The per-patient occupational radiation doses to veterinary PET/CT technologists were slightly greater than those reported for human nuclear medicine PET/CT technologists, but were comparable to estimated radiation doses for nurses caring for nonambulatory human PET/CT patients. Efforts toward maintaining staff radiation doses as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) will be important as veterinary PET/CT caseload increases.