Identifying Removable Radioactivity on the Surface of Cats During the First Week after Treatment with Iodine 131

Chalmers H.J., Scrivani P.V., Dykes N.L., et al.

Vet Radiol Ultrasound, 2006. 47(5): p.507-9.


Because radioiodine (1-131) is excreted in urine and saliva, treated cats can accumulate I-131 on their coats from contacting soiled litter and grooming. This could result in removable radioactivity, which is a potential source of human exposure to radiation and specifically to internal contamination. The purpose of this study was to determine if there is removable radioactivity on cats treated with I-131. Daily wipe tests were performed for 7 days at two sites (both flanks, one site; and all four paws, one site) on six hyperthyroid cats treated with I-131. A y counter was used to determine the counts per minute (cpm) of the samples, which were converted to disintegrations per minute (dpm) to estimate activity. The results were compared to the New York State limits of removable activity for a non-controlled area (<1000dpm/100 cm2) to determine if the amount of removable activity was acceptable for a member of the public. The median value of removable activity was 241 dpm (range from 34 to 4184 dpm) for the flanks, and 308 dpm (range from 60 to 1890 dpm) for the paws. The amount of removable radioactivity on the surface of hospitalized cats treated with I-131 during the first week after treatment, occasionally and without obvious pattern, exceeded the New York State limit. Sporadic activity as high as 4148 dpm was found. It is prudent to advise owners to observe routine hygiene when handling cats after discharge to minimize the risk of internal contamination.