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I 131 Questions

Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2010


I am new to all of this! I am a 34 mother of two - 10 months and 3 1/2 years old. My surgery was 3 weeks ago. They found a very small nodule on the right side of my thyroid during a physical in May and that was ruled very suspicous at biopsy and then ruled papillary cancer during my surgery. I am working on scheduling my I 131 and wondering how long I should plan to be away from the two kids after the treatment! I talked with Nuclear Med at the hospital today and they were a little to vague for me. 24 hours in isolation and then not to be cuddling with them but I could be in the house with them..... Any insight is appreciated!


alapah's picture
Posts: 287
Joined: Oct 2009

It is hard but it's really important to not expose children to the radiation from I-131. The recommendations do seem to vary widely from state to state and even hospital to hospital. I talked with two radiation oncologists in two different facilities in my town. I lived in an apartment below a family. One place said the situation was fine if I didn't share laundry or bathrooms with them. However, the other facility requires patients to be inpatient for the first 24 hrs- when you're most potent. They felt my living situation, even though I was not in direct contact with children, was not a good thing. My view is that it's better to err on the side of caution - to be extra vigilant and not risk exposure. Children are particularly vulnerable. I'd feel horrible if I somehow caused disease in another person. A few days of isolation is a small price to pay for peace of mind for decades to come. And in fact, I think very short exposure and contact, like a hug, after the first 48 hrs is deemed safe. I was given a one page sheet telling me when it was safe to do various things across those 10 days. Thyca.org has some guidance too. You might want to check it out. Best to you. It'll be ok.

Posts: 507
Joined: Apr 2010

from thyca.org

What do I do at home?
If you go home immediately after a treatment dose, use the following guidelines regarding distance, time, and hygiene.

Minimize contact (less than 3 feet or 0.6 meter for more than 1 hour each day) with everyone for the first five days, and with small children or pregnant women for eight days.
Do not sit next to someone in an automobile for more than one hour.
Sleep in a separate room and use separate bath linen and launder these and underclothing separately for one week.
Wash your hands with soap and plenty of water every time you use the toilet.
Rinse the sink and tub thoroughly after using them.
Use separate eating utensils or disposable eating utensils. Wash eating utensils separately for one week. Do not prepare food for others.
Flush toilet 2-3 times after use for two weeks after discharge.
Males should sit when urinating to avoid splashing for one week.
Discuss with your doctor how long you should wait before starting a pregnancy after your treatment (usually at least two months for males and six months for females).
If you are breastfeeding, it should be discontinued, but can be resumed for subsequent childbirths.

the thing you have to remember is the first few days your body is getting rid of the excess I-131 and that is the most dangerous part for others.

after 2 weeks though you just have the 1/2 life of the radiation left in your body to worry about (about 8 days). so figure by 14 days 1/4 of what they gave you that stayed in the body is left.. 8 days later its down to 1/8 and another 8 days to 1/16th.

so each day that goes by makes it safer to spend longer without ill effects to the kids/faimly/pets.

the first 5-7 days though you might still be sweating out the excess radiation.

it also depends on how much they give you.

but to be safe add a bit longer to everything to be extra safe.

Posts: 47
Joined: Aug 2009

How are you feeling?

Spend as much time as you can with them before your RAI because it will be tough, but try to stay away as long as possible. During the last week of your low iodine diet you will begin to feel very tired and listless (at least that was my experience). Exercise to keep your energy up now (before your diet).

I share my home with my three year old niece and I chose to stay in the hospital for the first 3 days, then when I got home, I stayed completely isolated for another 10 days. it was tough, but that gave me piece of mind not having her any where near me. The nuclear dept normally give you "clearance" after 7 days (when you need to go for your body scan), but recommends staying away or limit contact with children for another 2 weeks.

after my isolation, my parents "de-contaminated" the room, cleaning from floor to ceiling. every state/city has different guidelines. everything I used, I tossed out. I used a sleeping bag on the floor and placed drop cloths all over to cover where I walked and used gloves when I needed to touch the doorknobs etc.

If you have pets, they need to be away from you also.

Good luck!!

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