In April, the International Atomic Energy Agency published guidelines on the protection of humans and animals from the veterinary use of ionizing radiation.
The document “Radiation protection and safety in veterinary medicine” (PDF) is a 181-page entry in the series of IAEA safety reports for industry and work. It provides details on the safe use of radiation in imaging and treatment.
Dr. Wm. Tod Drost, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Radiology, said veterinarians in the United States would find that most of the information contained in the IAEA document is already contained in the requirements of the State Veterinary Practice Act. However, the safety report could provide a blueprint for countries developing their own regulations for the use of radiation in veterinary medicine.
“We are very fortunate in the United States to have medical physicists who are probably more familiar with this IAEA document, and they would go through it and see what kind of changes to the recommendations there would be and then bring them back to their regulators to make changes, ”said Dr. Drost.
The IAEA document describes measures to protect workers and the general public and to optimize animal radiation exposure in veterinary applications of diagnostic radiology, imaging, nuclear medicine procedures and radiation therapy.
“The new publication contains much-needed radiation safety recommendations for veterinarians and regulatory agencies and is relevant to academic training programs in veterinary medicine, professional associations and providers of imaging and therapy equipment for veterinary medicine,” said an IAEA announcement. “It helps professionals improve radiation protection and safety safety in line with technological advances in the veterinary field, and provides clear methodologies for the use of radionuclides for diagnosis and treatment in animal health care, as well as for the management of radiation exposure of workers and property owners from the animal and the waste it produces, which may be radioactive for a short time. “
The safety report itself states that unlike human medicine, veterinary medicine often uses ionizing radiation outside of specific health facilities, e.g. B. in stables, on farms and in zoos. The handling of animals also often requires the presence of more people than just the veterinarian, and this requires additional protective measures.
“The increasing public demand for best-practice animal care will lead to the installation of advanced imaging equipment in more veterinary facilities that require properly trained personnel with the expertise to perform procedures safely,” the document said.
The document also states that exposure to ionizing radiation is not completely safe, but exposure may go unnoticed due to the lack of physical sensation and the delay in the onset of tissue damaging effects.
Attention is also drawn to the potential temptation to increase the use of ionizing radiation for non-veterinary applications such as x-ray examinations of horses for sale. And it suggests that advances in human medicine, such as the development of novel radionuclide therapies, increase the possibility that such advances will be applied to animals and that veterinarians will need to address new radiation protection issues.