Year: 2021

02 Dec 2021
Odyssey's Canvas module

Odyssey “How To” Series: Canvas Module

Join us for this week’s edition of our Odyssey How To series with Odyssey Implementation Analyst Katelyn Waters. We discuss how to carry out certain functions of the Canvas module and answer some of your frequently asked questions.

Odyssey is a radiation safety software suite designed to help RSOs, EHS managers, and Radiation Safety Specialists manage affordable and efficient programs.

Schedule an in-depth demo with our Odyssey team to discuss how the software can assist you with your radiation safety management needs.

24 Nov 2021
Odyssey training module

Odyssey “How To” Series: Training Module

Join us for another round of our Odyssey How To series with Odyssey Implementation Analyst Katelyn Waters. We discuss how to carry out certain functions of the Training module and answer some of your frequently asked questions. Scroll down to view the full transcript.

Odyssey is a radiation safety software suite designed to help RSOs, EHS managers, and Radiation Safety Specialists manage affordable and efficient programs.

KB 00:09: Welcome back to our 12-week How-to series highlighting Odyssey Radiation Safety Software. We’re back once again with Odyssey Implementation Analyst Katelyn Waters to talk about the Training module. We’ll be addressing some frequently asked questions we get about the module’s functionality as well as its use in training personnel. But before we get into our frequently asked questions, Katelyn do you mind giving us an overview of the Training module?

Katelyn 00:33: Absolutely, KB. The Training module is 1 of 12 modules of Odyssey, which is our radiation safety software suite. It’s been developed so that administrators either for a radiation safety program or EH&S programs can easily create training courses for their own personnel. We’ve seen these courses used either as the sole method of instruction or as a supplement to live, in-person training.

If I navigate into the module, there are going to be 3 main sections for us: Manage Users, Manage Courses, and Results. If I go to Manage Courses, we can actually take a look at one of the example courses that we have added to this demo account called Medical X-ray.

The left-hand side has a customizable description of that course, and this is something that an administrator would add. And the right-hand side will show us a breakdown of the course. Each of these training courses is broken down into as many modules and chapters as you would like, and you can name each of those as well as have content like lecture videos, documents, and a quiz form for each of the chapters.

KB 01:42: And how do admins go about creating these courses? Also, what kind of content are you able to include?

Katelyn 01:48: Yeah, so you go about creating these courses from the previous page under Manage Courses, and so instead of selecting one of our existing courses here you’d hit the big New Course button. After that, you’re going to be prompted to upload content for your course; each chapter will have its own content. Chapter 1 that we’re looking at has lectures that we have previously uploaded to the chapter as well as there is a supplemental document for this chapter. And you would go about adding those initially from a page that looks like this one right here. Right now I’m editing the chapter but this is the same form you’re going to see when creating a new chapter. You’re going to have the chapter title that you can enter or edit, a description that you can put in, and then a box here that you can click and drag or click to upload any of those resources. If you have a video, you can add a PowerPoint, documents like PDFs, or Word Documents.

And then at the bottom, we’re going to have the existing resources that are already part of this chapter. The two videos that we saw are listed right here that have been previously uploaded, and then that document that we viewed is this document right here. I can edit or delete any of those if need be.

KB 03:07: That’s great. Is there a similar process for the actual quiz creation?

Katelyn 03:13: When we’re creating quizzes we have some tools within the Training module to go about creating those. I’m going to go to this Chapter 2 quiz. Right now what we’re looking at is the student view of the quiz, there are all multiple choice questions for this one and this is the format of what they’re going to see. But an administrator either creating or editing one of these quizzes is going to have this view here where you have multiple buttons. You can add multiple-choice questions to your quiz, True/False, short answer, or something called a Worksheet, which is going to be a form from our Forms module that you associate with this quiz. And once you do select one of those buttons you will have a question added to your quiz that looks like this. You will type in what the actual question is, what options you want this student to be able to select from, and the correct answer.

KB 04:07: I see that there are some other settings right there at the top of the page. What exactly are those settings for?

Katelyn 04:12: That’s a great question. The passing percentage right here is the percent of questions that the student needs to get correct in order for this quiz to be marked as completed, or passed. If the student does not pass that particular quiz, there is a lockout period which is optional. We do set this for our quizzes. The purpose for that is to encourage the student to go back and review that material prior to taking the quiz again so they’re not just taking it over and over again until they pass it. You can also set the number of attempts that they’re allowed to do for each quiz. The -1 that you see here is unlimited. We allow them to take that over and over again even though there is a lockout period, but you could set this to 2 or 3 attempts, whatever you would like.

The final box is Questions Per Quiz. This allows you to create a pool of questions that each quiz attempt will pull from. If you want to, as an administrator, add in like 30 different questions for this quiz, but when a student takes it you want it to pull maybe 10 of those questions out, you can put 10 here, and then it will pull from that overall pool of questions.

And finally, we have this checkbox “Show Answers on Failure.” If a student does not pass that quiz you can then determine with this checkbox if you want to show them the correct answers then.

KB 05:34: And am I able to see what students answer for the quizzes and track their progress on my end?

Katelyn 05:44: Yes. Let me go back out to the other two sections that we have not viewed so far in Training. And those are going to be Manage Users and Results.

Briefly taking a look at that Manage Users section for that same course we were just looking at, the example Medical X-ray course, we can see the students who are assigned that course, when they were assigned it, when it’s due for them to complete, whether or not they completed it, and we can also take a look at their course completion certificate from here if we wanted to. We can optionally also unassign any of them, or assign additional Odyssey users at the bottom of this page.

But to more directly answer your question, in addition to this section, we have the Training Results. The Training Results section has each of your courses listed out, the students that have taken it at any point in time, as well as, if you select one of their names, you can view how they responded to each of the quizzes that are included within that course. We have Vincent Goble here, who has previously taken the Medical X-ray course, and his scores tab has all of the chapters that he has completed. So, so far, he’s only completed Chapter 1. And we can see what each of the questions were for that Chapter 1 quiz, how he responded, as well as the correct answer. And we can see one of them here we can see he did not answer correctly even though he did pass, and that’s this one in red and it’ll be labeled very clearly for you.

This is a very easy way to track progress for each of your students as they progress through the course. But you could also just wait until they complete the course because at the end of that course each student is going to have available to them a course completion certificate, which they could provide to you to keep in your records as proof of their completion.

KB 07:31: That sounds very easy and efficient! And that wraps up our list of frequently asked questions for the Training module. Thanks Katelyn, for walking through it with me and clarifying how users can use it to train personnel in their Radiation Safety or EHS program. We’ll see you next week for a discussion on Odyssey’s Waste Management module.

Schedule an in-depth demo with our Odyssey team to discuss how the software can assist you with your radiation safety management needs.

17 Nov 2021
Waste management module screenshot

Odyssey “How To” Series: Waste Management Module

Join us for week 7 of the Odyssey How To series with Odyssey Implementation Analyst Katelyn Waters. We discuss how to carry out certain functions of the Waste Management module and answer some of your frequently asked questions. Scroll down to view the full transcript.

Odyssey is a radiation safety software suite designed to help RSOs, EHS managers, and Radiation Safety Specialists manage affordable and efficient programs.

KB 00:11: Welcome to Part 7 of our 12-week How-to series highlighting Odyssey Radiation Safety Software. We’re back with Odyssey Implementation Analyst Katelyn Waters to talk about the Waste Management module. Today’s discussion will address some frequently asked questions we get about the module’s functionality, specifically its use in managing radioactive waste. Katelyn, do you mind giving us an overview of the Waste Management module?

KW 00:33: Absolutely KB. The Waste Management module here is 1 of 12 modules of Odyssey. It can help track location, activity, and disposal of any radioactive waste in your program. It directly connects with another of Odyssey’s modules, that being Inventory Tracking, and you can actually transfer materials from inventory tracking to waste management. If I navigate into this, we can see that there are six main sections: Sites, Locations, Transactions, and then three for containers.

Sites is where you can mark any of your existing Odyssey sites as somewhere that houses radioactive waste. Locations, you can designate more specific areas at those sites. And Transactions we’ll come back to, but we have three different types of containers: Open, In-Transit, and Closed.

Open is going to be waste containers that are located where ever radioactive materials are being used, where it’s actively accumulating. This could be a lab, a hospital, somewhere where there’s a waste container that’s being filled. Once that is filled or is ready for being transported, you can mark the container as In-Transit and it will get moved to this section or category. And once it’s at its final location if that’s going to be decaying on-site, somewhere where it’s awaiting disposal, if you’re transferring it completely off-site, it will be then moved to the Closed Container section. When the containers arrive at a waste site, they can be marked as closed.

KB 02:09: So you mentioned that you can move inventory from the Inventory Tracking module to Waste Management. Does that add the materials to a waste container here? Where do those materials go?

KW 02:21: Yeah, that’s a great question. I’m going to navigate back to the Odyssey page and actually go into Inventory Tracking for us. And you can dispose of materials either from Inventory Holdings which is our unsealed sources section, or from the sealed sources section. If you go into either of those you’re going to have a button at the top of the page that says “Dispose of RAM” or for the other sections “Dispose of Sealed Sources.” When you click that, you’re going to have a couple different options here. You can select which radioactive materials you’d like to dispose of, which sealed sources you’d like to dispose of… I’ll actually choose one for us here. And then your container option.

To clearly answer your question, yes, it’s going to be moved to one of the waste containers in the Waste Management module. This can either be an existing container that you want to select from or you can add a new one during this process. I’m going to select existing and choose one. Then once we select submit, it’s going to transfer that material to Waste Management and archive it in the Inventory Tracking module. So you’re still going to have a record of it in Inventory Tracking, it’ll be an Archived profile, but the material itself is going to be moved to that open waste container. We can see that it’s open by this word here in Waste Management.

KB 03:47: I can see that the material that you transferred under Waste Materials, and that there’s other material already added to the waste container. Is there a limit to how many materials you can add?

KW 03:59: You can add as many materials as you would like, that’s going to be this section here for anyone watching the video today. And, you can see that there are a variety of things added, like you mentioned KB. You can have a variety of different isotopes as well, we have quite the combination here. It’s going to track each individually. There’s an estimated current activity column, which is this one, this is going to go off of the reference date and activity that you already have in the system, as well as the half-life of that isotope, to consistently calculate out what that activity is at this moment.

For the overall container you’re also going to have this piece of information here, Projected Decay Date. This is going to take into account all of these different isotopes, what they are, what their half-lives are, what their current activity is, and try and estimate for you when all of that container’s contents are going to be approximately 0 activity. And we can see this one’s pretty far out based on the isotopes we have within this container.

KB 05:03: OK, great. And the Documents and Comments tabs are self-explanatory, but what is the Labels tab of the profile for?

KW 05:10: This is a tool that we have available actually for any item in Odyssey that has physical inventory associated with it, whether that’s going to be machines, equipment, any of the radioactive materials in inventory tracking or the waste containers like we’re looking at now. And what you can do is add in information from the profile, from this General tab, to a label that you can print out and affix to that waste container.

If I go ahead and look at this section right here I can select Variables. Once you select Insert it adds it to that label for you. I’ll go ahead and put in a few things here as some examples. After you add those it’s going to give you a print preview of what that would look like for the particular container that you’re looking at. This is the Unique ID for that container, the Location it’s at, as well as the QR code. The QR code is really nice because if you were to print this out and put that on that waste container, once you scan this QR code, it contains the URL for the profile and so it will take you directly here to this page of the profile.

KB 06:20: That seems like it would be really useful during inventories. I just have one more question. Do you mind explaining what transactions are and why they’re listed on this page? We didn’t cover that in the overview of the module.

KW 06:33: Sure thing. Definitely meant to get back to that as well. So Transactions are going to be used to move containers between those three different categories: Open, In-Transit, and Closed. You can also use them to mark containers for other actions that might have happened, whether that’s going to be an inventory that occurred, surveys, or a disposal method.

To do so, I can actually go back to that main transaction section, or there’s also this Perform Transaction button which is going to be available on all these container profiles. If I select that we have a form to fill out. It’s going to automatically populate with today’s date. I can choose what’s happening, this is a custom list for the account. For this example one we have just some disposal options listed here, some transit received options, as well as the one I’ll choose for example is survey.

If I select a waste site or waste location, it’s going to perform this operation on anything located at that site or at that location. Or, I can select them independently, select containers independently, here. If you come from a container profile like we did it’s going to populate that container in for you, which is the number 30 container. Once you’re ready you can select Submit. What it does is it performs that operation on the container for you. And it will put that in the history of waste transactions like this table list. So, we can see that container 30 was surveyed, the person that actually submitted that, as well as the date. And if we navigate back to the waste container profile, this is the same one we were looking at before, and scroll down, we have a waste transactions section where we can see that there are several things that have happened previously but we have the one that we just added in here from today’s date.

KB 08:27: Alrighty. And that wraps up our list of frequently asked questions for the Waste Management module. Thanks Katelyn, for walking through the module with me and explaining how users can use it to manage the movement and disposal of their program’s radioactive waste.

Schedule an in-depth demo with our Odyssey team to discuss how the software can assist you with your radiation safety management needs, or visit our website to learn about Odyssey’s other radiation safety modules.

10 Nov 2021
Permits lock icon on Odyssey platform

Odyssey “How To” Series: Permits Module

Join us for our 6th edition of the Odyssey How To series with Odyssey Implementation Analyst Katelyn Waters. We discuss how to carry out certain functions of the Permits module and answer some of your frequently asked questions. Scroll down to view a full transcript of the discussion.

Odyssey is a radiation safety software suite designed to help RSOs, EHS managers, and Radiation Safety Specialists manage affordable and efficient programs.

KB: Welcome to Part 6 of our 12-week How-to series highlighting Odyssey Radiation Safety Software. Today we’re back with Odyssey Implementation Analyst Katelyn Waters to talk about the Permits module. We’ll be addressing some frequently asked questions about the module’s functionality and its use in enforcing permits and licenses. To get started, Katelyn can you give us an overview of the Permits module?

Katelyn: Absolutely, KB. The permits module is one of 12 modules of Odyssey that focus on radiation safety. It allows you to enter in any existing permits and licenses you have to actively enforce them when you add radioactive material inventory into Inventory Tracking, machines into the Machine Management, or Equipment into Equipment Catalog. By enforcement, I mean when you go to actually enter any of those inventory items into Odyssey, it’s going to check against the permit to see what types of inventory are allowed, where the inventory can be, authorized users, and in the case of radioactive materials, the allowed possession limits as well. If you do try to add inventory to Odyssey that conflicts with a permit, the software is going to prevent you from doing that and the addition of that inventory and let you know why.

To see an example of that, I can navigate into the Permits module and we’re going to go and focus on the Permits section of this today. This module will support as few or as many permits as you would like. Each of them has their own profile, which I can get to if select one by name. There’s a general tab of information, you can name the Permit, it will tell you what types of information it is enforcing within Odyssey—this one here has isotopes and survey meters that it’s covering—and issue an expiration date, as well as you can formally name some individuals for the permit.

Other important tabs that we have are the Authorized Labs tab. This doesn’t have to be a literal lab, but it will be any area that’s going to be authorized to house the materials that are authorized by the permit.  An Authorized User tab… so these could be authorized users or other individuals that relate to the inventory, as well as if it’s a radioactive material permit, you’re going to have this isotope tab where you can list out all those isotopes as well as their possession limits.    

KB: One of the questions that we are frequently asked is if the permits module can aid in compliance with other conditions listed on permits and licenses such as the need to survey or inventory on a certain frequency or wear dosimetry and PPE.

Katelyn: This module does support that.  We have, if I scroll down a little bit, an Authorized Conditions section where you can enter any of that information in as an authorized condition. And then when you go to perform a permit audit, which you can also do in Odyssey, these conditions can be referenced, and any necessary non-compliances or corrective actions cited in that audit that relate to the condition.

KB:  Good to know! I see a couple of buttons on the profile for reports. Are the authorized conditions included in the reports?

Katelyn: Yes, they are. Let me go ahead and select Permit Report and we’ll go take a look at that. To actually see the report, I will select the Generate Report button, and it will load at the bottom of the page for us. And depending on what types of information are enforced by that permit, you’re going to have different information on the Permit Report, as you might expect.

You’ll have a table of Maximum Activity Limits if you have radioactive material, if you have equipment or machines that are on the permit you will have tables for those, as well as an Authorized Locations section which is going to cover that Authorized Lab tab that we saw. To directly answer your question, KB, the Permit Conditions section here is referencing those Authorized Conditions that we just saw on the profile, and here will also break it down by category for you so you can see that information.

KB: Going through the module, I’ve been trying to think of how we could enter our information. We have one radioactive materials license, but internally we also assign allowed possession limits to each of our sites. Would we be able to structure the permits this way in this module?

Katelyn: That’s a great question and a pretty common use case for the Permits module. What I suggest in that scenario is to add one permit that has your overall license limits, and then one or more other permits for individual locations, and on those, you can designate the allowed activities for those locations. That way you can monitor both your overall possession limit and what you’ve internally assigned to each of your locations.

KB: Gotcha! Alright, one last question. If I need to change any of those limits, or authorized users, locations, or any other information that’s listed on the permit, can I do so?

Katelyn: Yes, so let me navigate back to the Permit Profile, it is linked from the report if I select the name. And any user with the appropriate permissions within Odyssey can edit the information for this permit at any time by selecting this pencil icon. When you do that, you’re going to see at the bottom of the edit form something called Make Amendment. And there are a few other places in this profile where you can edit information where this is also displayed. If I select this checkbox, it creates a formal amendment for that change which will be logged in the history for that permit. That lives on the Permit Amendments tab and going to that we can see some historical ones that were added in for different changes that occurred in the past. And this is really great to always have to reference if you ever need to figure out where a change occurred or when.

KB: And that wraps up our list of frequently asked questions for the Permits module. Thanks, Katelyn, for walking through the module with me and answering some frequently asked questions about how Odyssey can help manage an organization’s permits.

Katelyn: Thanks for having me, KB.

Schedule an in-depth demo with our Odyssey team to discuss how the software can assist you with your radiation safety management needs.

03 Nov 2021
Odyssey incident management dashboard

Odyssey “How To” Series: Incident Management Module

Join us for week 5 of our Odyssey How To Series with Odyssey Implementation Analyst Katelyn Waters, where we discuss how to carry out certain functions of the Incident Management module and answer some of your frequently asked questions.

Odyssey is a radiation safety software suite designed to help RSOs, EHS managers, and Radiation Safety Specialists manage affordable and efficient programs.

KB 00:10 Welcome to Part 5 of our 12-week How To Series highlighting Odyssey Radiation Safety Software. Today we’re back with Odyssey Implementation Analyst Katelyn Waters to talk about the Incident Management module. We’ll be addressing some frequently asked questions we get about the module’s functionality and its use in recording incidents. To get started, Katelyn, can you give us some background on the Incident Management module?

Katelyn 00:30: Absolutely. The Incident Management module is the most recent addition to the Odyssey Radiation Safety Software suite. It’s located in the bottom right-hand corner here. It can be utilized for your radiation safety program as well as more generally for environmental health and safety. It allows you to track incidents such as radiation events, injury, illness, equipment damage. And if I navigate into the module itself, we can see it has a dashboard that is very similar to the Personnel Dosimetry module, which allows you to see at-a-glance the number of open and closed cases that you have for your account, a breakdown of those incidents over time, as well as a subtype distribution for what kind of incidents are occurring in those total numbers for you.

KB 01:26: So is this like the Personnel Dosimetry dashboard in that I can also edit which widgets are displayed?

Katelyn 01:33: Yes. By popular request, we actually built this to have a lot of those similar features. And if I select this gear icon, I can add additional widgets via this Widget Select. I can remove any. So, this is a bulletin one here that allows you to add some news memos for users to see. But if I don’t want to utilize that I can always remove any widget as well. I can click and drag to move them around; I can also change the individual settings I want to see.  I just added in an example incident here, so we’ve knocked this down to zero days since the last incident. But I can also filter that to different types of incidents, different sites, as well as other graphs such as incidents over time allow you to select the time period and other settings.

KB 02:10: Well, that’s great! Um, I see on this page that the incidents are broken down into something called subtypes. Are these built-in options or are they customizable?

Katelyn 02:31: That is a great question. So, these are customizable, and if I use the navigational menus at the top of the page, I can go to a section called Case Subtypes. And this demo account has a variety of options that have been added. We have different injuries such as burns, chemical injuries, fractures, as well as some other items such as illness, fire, radiation event, near misses, workplace hazards, and equipment damage. And these are completely added as just examples. They can be customized for your program and the line of work that you might encounter.

KB 03:12: And how would I go about adding one of these incidents to the module?

Katelyn 03:19: Similarly to how we go to the case subtype, we can also go and use this menu to go to the Add Case screen. And from here I have a form I can fill out about the incident or case, as we refer to them in the software. I can select who the affected user was, so I’ll select our example person Ted. The type, so we have them broken down into just general and injury for this particular account, but I can get more specific with these subtypes. So, I’ll choose a Workplace Hazard. We also have the ability to enter in a site, and this is going to refer to the different sites in Odyssey which are also utilized elsewhere outside of the module. And a location description, if I want to get more specific I can go ahead and enter any text description as to where this incident actually occurred. The Incident date, I’ll just say today. And then we have a descriptive element section. This just helps you very quickly write out what actually happened. These are prepopulated statements that we set up during implementation with different categories. So you can see there are ones that pertain to damage, contact tracing, radiation exposures, insurance information. All of these are customizable phrases you can enter in.

So, since this one here was about a Workplace Hazard, I’ll actually go in and put something realistic here. Let’s go in and see our options for workplace hazards. There could be damage as a workplace hazard, so I’ll say that there was damage that’s internal and can be repaired on-site and that it is covered by insurance. So it just populates these different descriptions into here. As well as I can come in and I can also enter text if I want to. And then you can select the Save button and it’s going to add a case profile for you. This is where from here on out you how you go about adding information to the case and updating it during the lifetime of the event.

If I go back, I’m going to go to one of our cases that we have already added because it just has more example information for us to look at here. So here is a case on Equipment Damage. I can see I was the recorder for this, it was a general incident, it occurred in Building 5, more specifically in an office. And we see that Chris Wilson here was affected.

So, down below, this is where we have two tabs, one called Evidence, and once called Responses. The Evidence tab is intended for an administrator or someone who is coming in here and initially adding the case to Odyssey. For this particular incident, we can see that it was a computer that was damaged, and we have an image of that piece of equipment that has been uploaded.

The Responses tab is intended more for the affected users, so Chris here, or any other person that might have been involved that you need to get a response from. So this would be the admin coming in and requesting a response from any affected personnel to get their feedback on the event. And Chris’ response was requested, we can see that he had a response required by date of October 1st. He did come in here and respond saying that he had sent in the computer for repair. This is also a tab or area where you can come in and upload documents as well. So, if he has you know a repair document or invoice that is related to this, he can also add that to his response in this Files column.

KB 07:11: Well that seems really useful for tracking the resolution of incidents that need to be formally logged. I do have one last question though. How does the individual know when their response is requested?

Katelyn 07:19: That is another great question. We do have an alerts system that is going to be software-wide within Odyssey. And so, responses do fall into that category. You receive alerts through the Alerts and Taskbar that I just selected in the lower right-hand corner. There is an alerts section where post-it notes pop up with posted information; this is an example one about RAM Use Cards. But if you were to have your response required for a case, you would receive a notification of that via a post-it note alert like this, with text saying that your response is required and also linking to this particular case.

You can optionally also opt for email alerts. So, if you’re not coming into the software frequently and you still want to make sure you’re on top of all of those notifications you can get those emailed to your email address of choice as well.

KB 08:14: Well that sounds great! And that actually wraps up our list of frequently asked questions for the Incident Management module. Thank you again Katelyn for walking through the module with me and clarifying how users can use it to record incidents in their radiation safety or their EHS program.

Katelyn 08:29: Thanks for having me, KB.  

Schedule an in-depth demo with our Odyssey team to discuss how the software can assist you with your radiation safety management needs.

27 Oct 2021
Small cute dog examined at the veterinary doctor, close-up

Radiation Dosimetry for Animal Subjects 

This brief article describes ways in which Versant Medical Physics and Radiation Safety supports veterinarians and laboratory scientists who work with animal patients and laboratory research animals. Dosimetry is the science of measuring radiation and determining the amount of radiation energy that is imparted to living tissues. Radiation dosimetry is helpful in many medical science applications, such as correlating dose with biological effect, diagnosing disease, and planning radiation therapy for cancer treatment.  

Nuclear medicine is a fundamental medical specialty in radiology.  In nuclear medicine, radiologists administer radioactive drug products to patients to diagnose and treat many different health conditions.

In the healthcare setting, radiation dosimetry helps doctors to better understand the complex relationships between the amount (activity) of a radiopharmaceutical administered and the drug product’s biodistribution and metabolism in the body–such as its localization, retention, and clearance patterns. 

The biological behavior of the pharmaceutical inside the patient can be imaged using modern radiation-detection systems in two or three dimensions. The localized uptake of a radiopharmaceutical can indicate the function of organs, such as the heart, brain, liver, and kidneys (among others), and is particularly helpful in diagnosing cancer.

Radiation dosimetry provides the fundamental quantities used for radiation protection, risk assessment, and treatment planning. 

Animal subjects and humans are similar biologically in many ways. Therefore, different animal species may also be diagnosed and treated using the same or similar radiopharmaceuticals given to humans. And laboratory animals help researchers develop and test new drug products to ensure their safety and efficacy. Internal radiation dosimetry for animals has therefore become an important subspecialty of nuclear medicine physics.

Fundamental principles

Basic physics methods for internal radiation dosimetry are similar for animal and human models. Differences include the size and geometry of source-target organ pairs. Source organs are the internal organs for which images have been acquired or for which measurements have been made to determine the specific uptake, retention, and clearance patterns for the radioisotope. 

Target organs are the organs and tissues for which radiation doses are calculated. Recognizing the important size and metabolic rate differences among species, care must be taken by the nuclear medicine physicist to use correct calculation methods and the most relevant animal model.

Common animal species

In veterinary medicine, pet owners take their animals to clinics for evaluation and treatment of cancer, hyperthyroidism, and organ function.  The most common species include dogs, cats, and horses. In laboratory research, scientists use normal and immunodeficient mice, rats, rabbits, and sometimes dogs, monkeys, and miniature pigs.

Most biomedical research involves mice because they are less expensive, more easily housed and fed, and more efficiently bred for certain desirable genetic or mutational characteristics. Experiments with mice can also be accomplished in shorter time periods and with greater numbers for statistical purposes than other animal species. 

Optimizing radiation dose for diagnostics or cancer treatment

Radiation dosimetry guides the veterinarian when choosing the right amount of radiopharmaceutical for a specific purpose. Every radionuclide in the chart has unique energy emission characteristics, half-life, and chemistry for applications as drug products. Some radionuclides are good for imaging in the clinic, whereas others are more appropriate for therapeutics. For each type, dosimetry is important to determine the characteristics that provide either the most useful images or the most effective treatment.

In both diagnostic imaging and cancer treatment, a balance must be achieved between administering too much or too little. Too little diagnostic drug renders poor images, too much radionuclide results in poorer quality images, making medical interpretation all the more difficult. In cancer therapy, too little radionuclide may result in an ineffective therapy, where too much radionuclide may result in undesirable normal tissue toxicity. 

Excessive radionuclide handling in the pharmacy or clinic may also present an unnecessary radiation hazard to staff—or to pet owners, post-treatment. Radiation dose assessment helps veterinarians and research teams investigate the safest and most effective use of radiopharmaceuticals for the diagnosis and treatment of many disorders in animal subjects.

Dosimetry methods and models

For more than 50 years, specific methods and models for internal organ and tumor dose assessment have been developed by the special committee on Medical Internal Radiation Dose (MIRD) of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging as a technical resource for both physicians and physicists.  The virtue of the MIRD approach is that it systematically reduces complex dosimetric analyses to methods that are relatively simple to use, including software tools for experimental and clinical use. 

Radiopharmaceutical dosimetry accounts for both physical and biological factors.  Methods for internal radiation dosimetry tackle the challenge of assessing dose for many different radionuclides—each with its unique radiological characteristics and chemical properties as labeled compounds—in the highly diverse biological environment represented by the living body, internal organs, tissues, fluid compartments, and microscopic cells.  Methods developed for human internal dosimetry are readily adaptable to animal subjects–taking into account the differences in size, geometry, and metabolic rates.

Why Versant Physics provides medical internal radiation dosimetry for animal subjects

Dogs, cats, and horses can be diagnosed and treated with radiopharmaceuticals for cancer and some non-malignant growths or overactive thyroid glands. Pet owners have often developed close family-like relationships with their pets, and veterinary care can be essential for preserving the animal’s health and well-being.  

The development and testing of new radiopharmaceuticals usually begin with laboratory studies in mice. When promising results are achieved in mice, the investigators may advance to dog studies or even early clinical trials in humans, if approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA expects reliable and trustworthy radiation dosimetry for safety and efficacy evaluations. These assessments may rely on careful extrapolation of dosimetry results in animals to humans before drug trials can be approved for human patients.

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