PURPOSE: Hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion (HILP) is an effective method in the treatment of recurrent melanomas and soft tissue sarcomas. To avoid systemic toxicity, leakage from the limb perfusate into the systemic circulation is real-time monitored by administration of a radioactive agent to the limb circuit. This has made HILP safe for the patient. However, the radiation exposure to the surgical staff has never been measured and could be a limiting factor for the use of HILP. The purpose of the present study was to measure and evaluate the radiation exposure to the surgical staff performing HILP with (99m)Technetium labeled red blood cells. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Thirteen patients had HILP performed in 11 lower limbs and two upper limbs at our inpatient clinic between October 2006 and February 2007. The surgeon and nurse had thermoluminescence dosimetry (TLD) chips attached to the finger pulp and to the ring area of the left fourth finger, as well as an electronic dosimeter attached to the anterior lining of the trousers. The anesthesiologist and perfusion technologist also carried electronic dosimeters. RESULTS: The surgeon had the highest radioactive exposure with an average dose per procedure to the finger pulp of 16.2 microSv, to the ring area of 8.5 microSv, and to the abdominal wall of 4.2 +/- 0.6 microSv. CONCLUSIONS: HILP with (99m)technetium-labeled red blood cells does not constitute a safety risk to the operating team with respect to radioactive exposure. Routine dose monitoring of the staff or special precautions for fertile women are not necessary.
Keywords: Chemotherapy, Cancer, Regional Perfusion; Erythrocytes; Female; Health Personnel; Humans; Neoplasms; Occupational Exposure; Radiometry; Radiopharmaceuticals; Technetium