Author: Versant Physics

24 Aug 2022
dosimetry wearers

The 3 Best Personnel Dosimeters: Which Should You Choose?

Continual advances in medicine and medical technology have introduced a greater risk of exposure to ionizing radiation for occupational workers. This has increased the need for effective radiation monitoring services which are a key component of a compliant, well-run radiation safety program.

The problem for most new radiation safety officers is the sheer number of dosimeter types to choose from. How do you know which is the best personnel dosimeter for your radiation safety program? When should you consider phasing out your program’s existing dosimeters for something new?

To help you make your decision, we’ve put together this expert guide on the 3 best personnel dosimeters, their applications, and general specifications.

Instadose+ Wireless Dosimeter

The Instadose+ dosimeter badge is one of the best ways to effectively track cumulative dose for high-risk employees.

Instadose+ Dosimeter

These revolutionary electronic dosimeters utilize Bluetooth technology, Direct Ion Storage (DIS), and SmartMonitoring to wirelessly and remotely transmit on-demand dose data. Mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablets, as well as PCs or hotspot stations, are used to transmit and record the readings to the wearer’s private account.

The Instadose+ is the best personnel dosimeter for occupational workers like:  

  • Healthcare workers
  • Nuclear medicine professionals
  • Chiropractors
  • Veterinarians
  • Power plant employees
  • Military personnel
  • Flight attendants
  • Lab assistants

Instadose+ badges have a useful dose range of 1 mrem – 500 rem (0.01 mSv – 5 Sv) and a minimum reportable dose of 3 mrem (0.03 mSv).

Energy response:

  • Photon 5 keV – 6 keV

Instadose+ badges are ideal for occupational workers who want access to their own data at the drop of a hat.  The digital read-outs are recorded on a regular basis in accordance with the needs of the radiation safety program. This means no off-site processing.

TLD/OSL Dosimeters

The Genesis Ultra TLD-BP is a lightweight, eco-friendly, thermoluminescent dosimeter. It consists of two parts: a sealed blister pack, which protects the TLD’s internal components, and a separate holder with a clip for attaching to the collar or waist. The TLD also comes with a unique serial number that makes reassigning and tracking an individual’s occupational dose easier.

This personal dosimeter is useful for occupational workers with potential exposure to gamma, beta, neutron, or X-ray radiation. It can be used in a wide range of applications, including:

  • Nuclear medicine facilities
  • Medical imaging centers
  • Diagnostic research facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Universities
  • Nuclear power plants
  • Industrial facilities

The Genesis Ultra TLD-BP has a minimum reportable dose of 1 mrem (0.01 mSv) and a useful dose range of 1 mrem – 1000 rad (0.01 mSv – 10 Gy).

Energy response:

  • Photon 5 keV – 6MeV
  • Beta 0.251 MeV – 5 MeV
  • Neutron (TLD): Thermal – 6 MeV

Unlike with the Instadose+ dosimeter, TLDs require off-site processing to obtain the dose information. This process requires an in-house staff person to collect the dosimeters from wearers, send them out for processing, and re-assign new badges on a regular basis.

Ring Dosimeters

Mirion’s durable extremity dosimeters, commonly referred to as ring dosimeters, are the best personnel dosimeter choice for individuals who perform interventional radiographic procedures or who regularly handle radioisotopes.

There are several different options to choose from, including:

These are ideal for measuring low or high energy beta, gamma, or X-ray radiation to the hands and fingers. These dosimeters pair well with the Instadose+, which measures radiation exposure to the whole body, particularly in research and surgical environments.

Depending on the ring badge, the wear period can last from one week up to six months. They also are comfortable to wear under surgical gloves.

So, Which Is the Right Dosimeter for Your Radiation Safety Program?

When choosing a dosimeter for your radiation safety program, we recommend considering the following:  

  • Functionality and scope of use. How will it be worn and by whom?

  • The information you need the dosimeter to record. Do you need to track full body dose, or the dose received to the extremities, like the hands and fingers?

  • Quality. A higher quality better made dosimeter might cost more up front, but it will withstand continual use and record accurate radiation dose.  

  • Processing Requirements. Do you have the administrative support to collect badges from employees, send them out for processing, and redistribute new badges on a regular basis? If not, you may require a digital dosimeter like the Instadose+ that does not require processing.

If you’re still unsure, you can reach out to our physicists for a personal consultation about the best personnel dosimeter for your program.

Personnel Dosimetry Management with Versant Physics

Here at Versant Physics, we are passionate about radiation safety, adhering to ALARA principles, and helping radiation workers feel confident their dose measurements are accurate.

Our team of experienced physicists and technical support specialists will work with you one-on-one to ensure every aspect of your badge program runs smoothly and efficiently. 

With Versant managing your badge program, you can expect:  

  • Unparalleled customer service and technical support. We take care of everything from the initialization of badges for new wearers to badge troubleshooting.
  • Quality badge administration. Our team manages high-dose reports, adding and removing wearers from the program, and communicates consistently with your RSO.

  • Effective compliance administration. Our effective badge management processes are proven to improve compliance, from read day reminders to comprehensive monthly reports.

Schedule a consultation with our dosimetry program management specialists to get started!

17 Aug 2022
Odyssey software on a laptop

Odyssey Software: How to Buy in 6 Easy Steps

If you’re struggling to effectively manage the complex, ever-shifting responsibilities of a radiation safety program, we have a solution. Odyssey is a proprietary SaaS product designed by radiation safety experts for radiation safety professionals. It has transformed the way RSOs, EHS specialists, medical physicists, and healthcare professionals manage their programs, with an emphasis on streamlined workflows and minimal costs.

But what is the buying process for software like Odyssey? Refer to this guide to help you understand the ins and outs of purchasing Odyssey and get a feel for what the buying process will be like.

What is Software as a Service (SaaS)?

Before diving into what the Odyssey buying process entails, it may be helpful to understand what exactly we mean when we say that Odyssey is a software as a service (or SaaS) product.

It sounds fancy, but all this means is that the software is accessible through the internet, with your individual account made available through a secure, private login. SaaS products like Odyssey are often referred to as web-based software or on-demand software. Whether you’re at your home office, traveling, or doing an on-site inspection, you have access to the software and your data whenever you need it.

The Benefits of SaaS

There are numerous benefits to using a SaaS product like Odyssey for your radiation safety management needs.

For starters, SaaS products are purchased on a subscription basis. The type of subscription can vary depending on the product and company pricing model. Odyssey, for example, is available for purchase on a monthly or annual basis, with discounts provided for yearly subscriptions. These subscriptions are based on what the end user needs rather than offering everything in a lump sum and forcing you to pay for aspects of the software you have no use for.

SaaS products like Odyssey also allow end users to avoid the hefty up-front cost of purchasing a physical software product. There is no hardware management or expensive software upgrades to contend with. Thanks to the software’s base infrastructure, which is common to all users, any updates are completed behind the scenes and integrated automatically into your account.

Because of this SaaS products are easy to customize to accommodate the individual needs of a client or group.

In summary, the major benefits of SaaS software include:

  • No software installation
  • No license management on your end
  • No equipment updates
  • Cloud-based storage
  • On-demand access

The Odyssey Buying Process

If you’ve never purchased a SaaS product like Odyssey before, the buying process may seem a little overwhelming. However, it is a simple process that can be broken down into six steps.

Step 1: Schedule a Demo

One of the benefits of using a SaaS product over traditional software is that you get to see how it works first. You can schedule an Odyssey demo with our team whenever works best for your schedule.

Once you’re on the calendar, our Sales and Software teams will reach out to introduce themselves and confirm your appointment. They may ask a few questions to narrow down your role, which Odyssey modules you’re interested in, and the size of your dosimetry or radiation safety program. These questions help our team prepare a demo that meets your specific program needs.

We will also send you a Microsoft Teams meeting link for the day of.

Step 2: Receive a Demo

On the appointed day and time, you will meet with our Director of Sales and our Odyssey Implementation Analyst for a virtual demo. The initial demo will last around 45-60 minutes.

During the demo, our team will walk you through what Odyssey is and its basic functionality. We will cover the aspects of Odyssey that you expressed interest in as well. This is an opportunity for you to see the software in action and ask any questions you may have about access, usability, or pricing.

Additional 60-minute follow-up demos can be scheduled as needed.  

Step 3: Review Your Quote

After your demo, our team will send you a custom quote for your Odyssey subscription. The quote will include the license type or modules you discussed during your demonstration, a one-time software implementation fee, and the breakdown of optional training costs.

Step 4: Sign an Agreement

Once you approve your quote, you will receive an End User License Agreement (EULA) for signature. Take your time reviewing this agreement before signing and send any clarifying questions you have directly to our Sales team.

SaaS Odyssey Software

Step 5: Implementation

Once we receive a signed agreement, the Implementation process begins immediately. During this phase, our team works with you 1-on-1 to set up accounts for all Odyssey users and upload your program data. This can include everything from your list of dosimetry wearers to the x-ray machines at your facility. This phase normally takes 2-3 weeks to complete.

Step 6: Additional Training

Odyssey is a user-friendly but comprehensive radiation safety management software. Because of its depth and the number of actions that can be performed throughout the 12 modules, we provide additional training for RSOs and other account holders. Our team of Odyssey experts will train you on each module you’ll use and go over specific workflows to get you started out on the right foot. This step is optional but highly recommended.

Odyssey Customer Support

Another perk of using Odyssey is the continual support you have access to. We don’t just train you and leave you to your own devices (unless that’s what you want!) As you work in the software, questions may arise. You can contact our team directly to submit a ticket to our Support Desk 24/7.  

The Takeaway

Odyssey is changing the way radiation safety officers, EHS specialists, and healthcare professionals manage their programs. It streamlines common administrative processes for more organized and efficient workflows, in addition to providing major cost savings.

If you’re considering making a move to a more efficient radiation safety management software, find out what Odyssey can offer by scheduling a demo today.


Want to keep up with Versant Physics and Odyssey software news? Join our email list to receive our monthly newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any time.

29 Jul 2022
Female dial painter at the US Radium Corporation

What the Radium Girls Taught Us About Radiation Safety

The plight of the Radium Girls in the 1920s would teach us a great deal about the radioactive element radium and its effect on the human body. It brought to light the dangers of working with radium and created a universal understanding of the need for occupational and radiation safety measures.

What is radium?

Radium is a naturally occurring radioactive metal formed when uranium and thorium decay. In the environment, radium is present at low levels in groundwater, soil, rocks, and plants.

There are four radium isotopes, all of which are radioactive and have drastically different half-lives.

As radium decays it releases ionizing radiation in the form of alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. This radiation excites certain fluorescent chemicals in the metal and results in radioluminescence. It can also form other elements, such as radon.

Radium was discovered by Marie Sklodowska Curie and her husband Pierre Curie in 1898, although it would be more than a decade before the pair had isolated a sample large enough to work with.

Early Misinformation About Radium

Soon after the Curies discovered radium, medical professionals began using the radioactive substance as a cancer treatment. Before it could be properly studied, this initial use led to an explosion of interest from the American public and a host of false medical claims that radium was “healthful rather than medicinal.” 

Radium was initially considered a cure-all for a variety of health conditions, including arthritis, tuberculosis, rheumatism, gout, and high blood pressure. It was also thought to improve vitality in the elderly, treat skin conditions like eczema, and cure insomnia.

Because of its seemingly magical healing properties, major corporations began putting radium into their products and heavily promoting its use. Radium-infused toothpaste, pillows, facial creams, and tonic water were popular amongst the public, as were radium spas and clinics.

Radium-based cosmetics were trendy among women. They used these products to combat signs of aging in the form of wrinkles, crows-feet, and even unwanted body or facial hair.

The radium cosmetics gave the women’s skin a warm and cheerful glow and came to be known as “liquid sunshine.” This further cemented the idea that the products contained restorative properties that would revitalize the body and improve its overall health.

Who Were the Radium Girls?

In 1917, the United States entered World War I. There was a sudden demand for instruments and watches that could be read in the dark by U.S. soldiers. Thanks to a high-tech, glow-in-the-dark paint called UnDark, which was made with radium, this became possible.

With most of the country’s men on foreign battlefields, the United States Radium Corporation (USRC) in New Jersey began hiring young women to paint a variety of radium-lit instruments for use in the trenches. These women were called dial painters.

The dial painters would mix the radium-based paint in a crucible at their workstations and used fine, camel hair paint brushes to paint on the tiny, delicate numbers. The brushes quickly lost their shape after a couple of strokes. Management encouraged the women to use their lips to bring the brushes to a fine point for better precision. They were told repeatedly that radium was safe to ingest, and so continued with the “lip, dip, paint” process while they worked.

However, the dial painters didn’t just ingest the radium at their workstations. Due to its many reported health claims, workers would often paint their teeth or nails with radium-based paint before going out for the evening to impress their dates or amaze party guests. The dust from the hand-mixed paint coated the women’s hair and dresses, giving them a ghost-like glow that earned the women the nickname “ghost girls.”

For many dial painters, who were mostly between the ages of 14 and 20, this work was as desirable as it was glamorous. Radium’s luminous, sparkling appearance gave them a unique status. Furthermore, America’s obsession with its magical healing properties combined with the available compensation for the work had entire families flocking to the factory for a position.

Radiation Sickness

By the early 1920s, medical professionals throughout the area were noticing a frightening increase in the young worker’s health complaints. Many of their female patients complained of stiff and cracking joints, painful toothaches, oozing mouth sores, and listlessness, while others had broken out or developed severe anemia.

Dentists began pulling multiple teeth from young dial painters at a time. There were several instances where, during the tooth extraction, pieces of the woman’s decaying jawbone would come out with the tooth. In many cases, the tooth extractions wouldn’t heal.

Other symptoms of radium poisoning in the dial painters, which would later become understood as radiation sickness, were sterility, cataracts, leukopenia, eosinophilia, leukemia, anemia, and menstruation issues.

Mollie Maggia was the first dial painter to fall ill and die. She first developed increasingly painful toothaches that traveled from tooth to tooth. Severe pain in her limbs also prohibited her from walking.

Although dentists didn’t know it at the time, Mollie had developed “radium jaw.” This occupational disease involved necrosis of the upper and lower jawbones, bleeding gums, ulcers, and bone tumors. At the end of her life, Mollie’s dentists merely lifted her jaw from her mouth to remove it. Mollie died in 1922 just days before her 25th birthday.

Another 12 women who worked for the U.S. Radium Corporation as dial painters died the following year, with an additional 50 women falling severely ill.

Radium’s Effect on the Human Body

Radium has similar effects on the human body as calcium and strontium when inhaled or ingested. Once it enters the bloodstream, radium concentrates in the bones in high quantities. It emits alpha particles as it decays, which irradiates the cells on the bone’s surface. Over time radium will settle into the bone where it wreaks havoc on bone marrow and blood cell production.

If radium is ingested with food or water, over 80% of the element is excreted through urine or feces. The other 20% will travel throughout the body, settling in the bones and remaining there throughout the person’s life.

Historical Impact & Worker’s Rights

The surviving dial painters sued the U.S. Radium Corporation, although the road to doing so was not easy. The case was eventually settled out of court in 1928. The women were awarded $15,000 plus $600 per year for future medical expenses because of radium poisoning.

This landmark case was one of the first instances of workers receiving compensation for a disease developed because of their occupation. However, most of the women who received the money died within two years of the settlement.

At the time of the dial painters, there were no radiation safety measures put into place to prevent direct contact with the radioactive substance from occurring. The case of the Radium Girls opened people’s eyes to the dangers of radium and other radioactive substances. They were seen as an example of what could go wrong in an occupational setting and completely changed the course of occupational disease labor laws and regulations.

Their case had a direct impact on scientists’ approach to radiation safety during The Manhattan Project. It was also a leading cause for the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1970.

Radium would continue to be used as a luminescent paint until the early 1960s when its toxicity and danger to human life could no longer be ignored.

29 Jun 2022
UV radiation protection

Ultraviolet Radiation: How to Protect Yourself

Summer is in full swing. As a result, many Michiganders are spending more time in the great outdoors taking advantage of the warmth and sunshine.

However, the more time a person spends outdoors the more their body is exposed to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV radiation, a form of non-ionizing radiation, is invisible to the human eye and cannot be felt. It can cause severe skin damage and lead to the development of skin cancer.

Here at Versant Physics, our focus is primarily on radiation safety in relation to ionizing radiation sources used in medical procedures and cancer treatments. However, it is just as important that you protect yourself from naturally occurring UV radiation and understand the potential health risks.  

In honor of UV Safety Month, we’ll explain what UV radiation is, the most common types of skin cancer and other health risks associated with UV radiation, and important protective measures you should take when out in the sun.

What is UV Radiation?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a non-ionizing form of electromagnetic radiation that has both natural and artificial sources. Most of the UV radiation from sunlight gets absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere. What doesn’t get absorbed makes its way to the surface and interacts with our skin. UV rays are present even on cloudy days and also reflect off surfaces like snow, sand, and water.

There are three types of UV radiation rays:

  • Ultraviolet A (UVA)
  • Ultraviolet B (UVB)
  • Ultraviolet C (UVC)

UVA rays have the lowest wavelength of the different types of UV radiation; however, they make up over 95% of the rays that reach the Earth’s surface. These rays penetrate through the layers of skin, damaging the elastin and collagen. This results in tanned skin and skin aging, often in the form of wrinkles or age spots.  

UVB radiation is made up of high-energy UV rays that interact with the top layers of skin. UVB rays interact with skin cells and damage them, causing DNA mutations that show up later in the form of sunburns, skin cancer, or cataracts.

UVC rays are the strongest of the UV rays. Almost all of this UV radiation is absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere.

Unprotected, prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun is connected to a variety of health risks, including:

  • Premature aging
  • Skin damage
  • Cataracts
  • Immune system suppression
  • Skin cancer

UV Radiation Exposure and Skin Cancer

UV radiation causes melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers called basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Melanoma

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that forms in the melanocytes. These cells are located beneath the squamous and basal cells and are what produce melanin, the pigment that gives hair, eyes, and skin its color.   

Melanoma is less common than other types of skin cancer, however, it is more dangerous. This is because melanoma it more likely to spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. Melanoma often presents as a highly pigmented black or brown tumor on the torso, chest, neck, or face.

The “ABCDE” rule can help patients identify if their existing mole or new skin growth is a warning sign of melanoma:

  • Asymmetry. The two halves of the mole do not match.
  • Border. Normal moles have a clean, even border. Melanoma will present with uneven or ragged edges.
  • Color. Melanoma tumors can be black, brown, pink, red, or white.
  • Diameter. Melanoma is usually a growth larger than a pencil eraser, or ¼ inch in diameter.
  • Evolving. The existing mole or new growth is changing in size, shape, texture, or color. It also may begin to itch, bleed, or ooze.

People with light skin, eyes, and hair are considered more at risk of developing melanoma than people with darker skin. Age, gender, occupation, family history, and lifestyle choices also play a role in the level of risk associated with developing melanoma.

Nonmelanoma Skin Cancers

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer that begins in the basal cells. It shows up on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to UV radiation from sunlight, such as the head, face, or neck. It normally presents in the form of a skin lesion or shiny, skin-colored bump.

Squamous cell carcinoma is less common but just as serious. It presents as open sores, thick or wart-like skin, raised growths, or scaly red patches that may itch or bleed. SCC can show up anywhere on the body, although they are most often found on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun.

Both BCC and SCC grow relatively slowly and are highly treatable. The sooner a new or strange-looking growth is looked at by a dermatologist and diagnosed, the better the odds are of treating the skin cancer. However, if left untreated, these skin cancers can spread to other areas of the body and become more dangerous.

UV Radiation Protection

There are many simple protective measures the average person can implement to help lessen the risks associated with UV radiation and its negative side effects.

  • Seek shade
  • Avoid prolonged sun exposure from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest
  • Wear long sleeves or pants
  • Wear a hat and/or UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen

Sunscreen is a major protector against UV radiation. Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Wearing a minimum of SPF 15 can reduce the risk of developing melanoma by 50% and SCC by 40%. Wearing a protective sunscreen daily can also help prevent premature skin aging.

Are There Any Health Benefits to UV Radiation?

Exposure to natural UV radiation from the sun has an important health benefit for the human body. UV radiation helps our bodies produce vitamin D, which is an essential vitamin that absorbs calcium in our stomachs, reduces inflammation, and is needed for healthy bone growth. Some food products contain vitamin D however most people get a portion of their vitamin D needs through sunlight.

There are no hard and fast numbers detailing how much sunlight exposure is needed for optimal vitamin D synthesis. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 15 minutes of direct sun exposure at least 3 times a week.

However, this does not negate the need for sun protection measures such as sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.

The Takeaway

It is important to protect yourself from UV radiation any time of the year. Although this non-ionizing source of radiation can help our bodies create vitamin D, it also interacts with our skin in a way that can lead to skin cancer. To prevent this, you should wear and apply sunscreen as directed, invest in UV-blocking glasses and clothes, and try to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Learn more about UV and sun safety here.

24 Jun 2022

Radiation Safety and Brachytherapy Procedures

Brachytherapy is a procedure that involves placing radioactive material sources inside the body, either directly inside or next to a tumor. Also known as “close” radiation, this procedure is used to treat cancer by allowing doctors to deliver higher doses of radiation via a needle or catheter to specific areas of the body.

Areas of the body commonly treated using brachytherapy include the head and neck, skin, breast, cervix, lung, prostate, uterus, and eye. Brachytherapy implants can be temporary or permanent, depending on the type of treatment needed.

Brachytherapy targets the tumor directly, which increases exposure to the cancerous cells and reduces radiation exposure to the surrounding healthy cells. Because of the targeted nature of brachytherapy, it is best used for cancers that have not metastasized. It is considered as effective as—and sometimes used in conjunction with—external beam therapy.

Types of Brachytherapy

There are three types of brachytherapy:

  • High-dose rate (HDR) implants

HDR implants are inserted into the body and left in for brief sessions of 5-20 minutes before being taken out. These sessions can occur multiple times a day over a period of weeks, depending on the type of cancer being treated and the patient’s overall health. This is typically an outpatient procedure.

Radiation Risks:

HDR procedures are typically performed in a radiation therapy vault. No visitors are allowed during the treatment. Because HDR implants are temporary, a person receiving this therapy will not give off radiation once the implant is removed. Therefore, it is unnecessary for family members or visitors to take precautions after treatment.

  • Low-dose rate (LDR) implants

LDR sources are surgically implanted within or next to a tumor, where they remain in the body for 1-7 days. This procedure usually involves a hospital stay. When the treatment is finished, the doctor removes the radiation source and the catheter/applicator used to insert it.

Radiation Risks:

Radiation exposure risk to others is low with LDR implants. However, depending on the source used, radiation rates around the patient can be elevated while the source is in place. Because of this, in some cases, it is recommended that patients:

  • Limit the number of visitors during treatment
  • Limit the time spent with visitors during or between treatments
  • Limit time spent with children and pregnant women

Permanent brachytherapy is another type of LDR brachytherapy that involves inserting a needle filled with radioactive seeds into the tumor, with the help of an ultrasound or CT. These seeds are often made of metal, are roughly the size of a grain of rice, and contain radiation sources (iodine, palladium, cesium, or iridium).

The implants remain in the body permanently, however, the radiation they emit decreases over time. Eventually, almost all the radiation will go away. This type of brachytherapy is most commonly used for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Radiation Risks:

With this type of procedure, the radioactive source is not removed at the end of treatment. Therefore, it is important to initially limit time spent with pregnant women due to the low doses of radiation being emitted from the area being treated. Even after the implants have been in place for a long time, people with permanent implants can set off airport radiation sensors.

Radiation Protection

Modern brachytherapy techniques have largely eliminated the initial radiation exposure dangers that existed several decades ago. Most radioactive sources used for brachytherapy either incorporate a metallic shield within the applicator or use an isotope that emits low-energy photons that are shielded by the patient. Radiation does not travel far outside the treatment area, which means the chance of exposure to others is low.

However, there are recommended radiation safety precautions for both patients and medical professionals during a brachytherapy treatment. These may vary depending on the source and activity used for an individual implant.

  • HDR brachytherapy treatments are performed in a radiation therapy vault. The patient remains in the treatment room alone while the source is outside of its shielded housing to limit exposure to staff and members of the public.  
  • If visitors are allowed during the course of a temporary LDR treatment, they should spend no more than 30 minutes with the patient.
  • All implants are tested and sealed before they are implanted to ensure that the radioactive material inside of them does not leak. Their placement inside the body is also unlikely to change or move.

Side Effects of Brachytherapy

Because healthy tissue and organs surrounding the tumor are not as affected by the radiation treatment, most people experience fewer and less severe side effects than occur with external beam therapy.

In addition to tenderness, bleeding, or swelling in the treatment area, the side effects a patient could experience depend largely on the type of cancer and therapy being performed. Fatigue is common.

The side effects usually go away a few days after the treatment has ended. Ask your doctor or treatment team for more information on the types of side effects you may experience.

01 Jun 2022
diagnostic imaging procedure

Diagnostic Medical Physics in Medicine: Why It’s Important

Many are unfamiliar with the important role that diagnostic medical physics plays in medicine, particularly in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases like cancer.

At Versant Physics, we provide a wide range of diagnostic medical physics services that help healthcare facilities safely and effectively execute procedures for the health and well-being of their patients. Our goal is to help facilities ensure their patients are protected from excessive levels of radiation and that diagnostic equipment is working appropriately, all while maintaining compliance with state and federal regulations.

In this blog post, we’ll break down what diagnostic imaging is, how and why physics principles are applied to diagnostic medicine, and the various roles of a diagnostic medical physicist to help clarify the importance of this profession.

What is Diagnostic Imaging?

Diagnostic Imaging is a range of techniques and equipment used to look inside the body. The purpose of this is to help physicians identify injuries and illnesses, and to help make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. This can include a variety of procedures, from simple X-rays for broken bones to more complex procedures involving the brain, heart, or lungs.

Diagnostic imaging procedures are usually painless and noninvasive. However, depending on the test being performed, some patients may be exposed to small amounts of radiation.

diagnostic medical physics

CT scans are a common example of a diagnostic imaging test that emits radiation. In a CT scan, the patient is exposed to a series of X-rays from a variety of angles which are then processed via a computer. The computer creates cross-sectional images of the inside of the body. CT scans are higher-quality images than a normal X-ray and allow physicians to view both hard and soft tissues in the body. They can check for stroke, internal bleeding, chest abnormalities, enlarged lymph nodes, abdominal or pelvic pain, tumors, and more. It is also used to monitor existing diseases such as heart disease and cancer. 

Other common diagnostic imaging procedures include mammography, which helps detect and diagnose breast cancer, fluoroscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasounds.  

Diagnostic Physics and Medicine

Medical physics as a field is divided into five categories, including:

  • nuclear medicine
  • therapeutic medical physics,
  • medical health physics,
  • magnetic resonance imaging physics, and
  • diagnostic imaging.

Diagnostic medical physicists are responsible for ensuring the safe and effective application of radiation used in medical treatments. Specifically, radiology procedures. They work as a member of a patient’s care team, which typically includes physicians, dosimetrists, and radiologic technologists among others.

Equipment Evaluation and Compliance

One of the main roles of a diagnostic medical physicist is to ensure the safe operation of radiation-producing machines and diagnostic radiation detectors. This can include developing imaging equipment specifications, measuring the radiation produced by a piece of equipment prior to clinical use, and proving that the equipment is compliant with regulatory and accreditation requirements.

This also includes assessing all the software, algorithms, data, and computer systems associated with the radiation-producing equipment for accuracy and performance.

Acceptance Testing

Any unit that is used in a diagnostic setting must be periodically reviewed to ensure not only that the image quality is maintained, but that the unit is operating in compliance with the manufacturer’s specifications.

Most states require that a newly installed piece of diagnostic imaging equipment, whether it is brand new or used, be tested by a qualified medical physicist prior to first clinical use. This extremely thorough survey confirms that the unit was installed and set up correctly and ensures that it meets vendor and industry performance standards. It is also an opportunity to identify any potential issues with the unit before it is used on patients.

mammography unit

Typical units that require acceptance testing include fluoroscopic x-rays, radiographic x-rays, PET and PET/CT units, mammography equipment, C-arms, CTs, SPECT cameras, and PACS workstations.

Commissioning

The commissioning process for diagnostic radiation therapy machines such as Linear Accelerators involves testing the unit’s functionality and verifying that dose calculation algorithms work appropriately to produce measured dose calculations.  

Radiation-producing equipment like a LINAC is highly technical and specific. There are many requirements and protocols that detail how this unit should work, from how much energy it produces to the shape and direction of the beam. Diagnostic medical physicists are trained to measure, assess, and implement the optimal baseline values for a unit during the commissioning process.

Patient safety is the end goal of all diagnostic physics commissioning work.

Shielding

Another important aspect of diagnostic physics includes the planning and placement of shielding in areas that use radiation. In the United States, 35+ states require specific shielding designs in any room that houses radiation-producing equipment.

A diagnostic medical physicist can evaluate any shielding that is installed to determine if it will adequately protect workers, patients, and the public from the radiation outside of the scope of a specific treatment. This includes planning for material thickness as well as appropriate placement.

Versant Physics physicists are experienced with a range of equipment shielding requirements, including dental units, Cone-beam CTs, mobile c-arms, high-energy LINACS, Proton Therapy units, and Cyclotrons.

Our team is also experienced with different types of shielding materials, including non-lead materials, which are guaranteed to meet regulatory guidelines and ALARA principles.

Patient Dose & Treatment

Part of a diagnostic physicist’s job is also to ensure the safety of medical imaging modalities being applied in the treatment of individual patients.

They are responsible for determining the exact radiation dose a patient will receive in accordance with the radiation oncologist’s prescription before the patient begins treatment. Creating this therapy plan can take a few hours or multiple days, depending on the complexity of the illness. They also ensure radiation protection guidelines are in place, develop QA tools that ensure optimal image quality, and make sure that all operators are trained in the use of the best imaging techniques.

A diagnostic medical physicist may also monitor the dose of the patient throughout the course of their treatment.

Patients rarely interact directly with the medical physicist on their care team; however, they are a vital part of a safe and effective treatment process.

Versant Physics Diagnostic Support

Our board-certified physicists are able to handle diagnostic physics support for a variety of facilities, including hospitals, clinics, dental offices, and university health systems. With decades of experience, top-of-the-line equipment, and a passion for patient safety, our team is the best choice to assist with your diagnostic medical physics needs.

Contact us for a quote or to learn more about our medical physics support services.

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Forum Article "Radiopharmaceutical Extravasation: Pragmatic Radiation Protection" published ahead of print

An article written by Versant team members Dr. Darrell R. Fisher, Ph.D. and Misty Liverett, M.S., CNMT was recently published ahead of print in Health Physics. The article provides an unbiased, scientific assessment of pragmatic and reasonable health physics actions that should be taken in response to inadvertent extravasation events. Click the link below to view the article.

Permits

THE PERMISSION SYSTEM FOR INVENTORY TRACKING, MACHINE MANAGEMENT & EQUIPMENT CATALOG MODULES

Permit Profile

Each permit has a dedicated profile of information that includes authorized personnel, radioactive material, machines, and devices. Permit conditions, completed audits, and forms are also found on this profile.

Authorized Condition Database

Create and view authorized conditions included on permits. Previously created authorized conditions are listed with their code, category, and description.

Permit Enforcement

Information specified on a permit not only serves as a record of that permit, but also controls what can be added to other modules. The location, owner and type of radioactive materials, machines, and equipment can be enforced by permits.

Permit Audits

Perform permit audits, mail the results to relevant personnel, and track responses to non-compliances.