On the day of admission you will need to attend the Nuclear Medicine Department at the Freeman for blood samples. For females with childbearing capacity a sample of blood will be taken to exclude pregnancy. Pregnant women and those who are currently breast feeding must not be given radioiodine treatment.
After you are reviewed in the Nuclear Medicine Department you can make your way to Ward 35. You will be met by the ward clerk or one of the nursing staff and then shown to the radioiodine suite. The nurses and doctor will then admit you to the ward, taking blood pressure, pulse and temperature.
Am I nursed in a special room?
Yes, you will usually be nursed in a suite that has been specially adapted to care for patients receiving RI. You can find pictures of the treatment cubicle at www.butterfly.org.uk
Why do I need to be nursed in a special room?
RI is a form of internal radiation therapy and once you receive your treatment, special precautions must be taken. This is because your bodily fluids will contain the radioactive material, and radiation, similar to x-rays will be emitted from your body. The levels of radioactivity in your body will decrease quickly over a period of days as most of the material is eliminated from the body in your urine. For a few days we care for you in the radioiodine suite to reduce other people’s exposure to radiation. Regulations state that members of the public should not receive radiation doses greater than one millisievert (1mSv) in any year as a result of medical exposure to others (Statutory Instrument 1999). To put these risks into context, a person living in Newcastle is exposed to two millisieverts (2mSv) of background radiation a year.
What is in the radioiodine suite?
The suite has:
An en-suite bathroom, which includes a wash basin, toilet and shower.
We would advise that you bring travel size toiletries (eg soap, shampoo, bath gel, bath gel, toothpaste, tooth brush, make-up and disposable shaving kit) as these can be discarded with minimal wastage when you are discharged from hospital. Disposable razors, sanitary items and top-up items are available on request. Towels are also available but you may wish to bring your own. We are happy for you to use hospital towels as bath mats.
There is also air conditioning in this suite which can be noisy, so you may wish to bring ear plugs.
While you are in hospital we would advise that you undertake the following measures to help remove unwanted radioactive iodine from your body:
- Have a shower each day
- Drink between two to three litres of fluid a day (after taking the RI capsule to flush your system)
- Empty your bladder regularly eg every three to four hours, while also being careful not to splash urine outside the toilet basin
- Empty your bowels each day (mild laxatives can be prescribed if required).
A small kitchen area
You may be asked to share your kitchen facilities with another patient who is having the same or similar treatment.
Meals will be placed on the bench in the entrance of your cubicle. A sink, washing up liquid and bowl are provided in the kitchen for you to wash your own cutlery and crockery before it is collected by the ward staff.
Unwanted food should be disposed of using the waste disposal unit in the kitchen sink.
There is a small refrigerator in your cubicle and you may wish to bring a supply of mineral water, squash, fruit or other items that you are able to eat while on a low Iodine diet. Although tea and coffee-making facilities are available in your room, including a kettle, please advise the ward staff if you require any additional supplies of tea, coffee, milk or sugar. You will have been advised by your Consultant to eat a low Iodine diet for two weeks before and 48 hours after you treatment. Although in most cases you will be able to select your meals from the ward menu this may be influenced by any additional special dietary requirements you may have eg vegetarian. Please contact the ward before your admission if you have any additional dietary requirements which they will need to take into account during your stay.
Unfortunately Patient Line is not available in your cubicle. However, there is a TV and DVD player in your cubicle which you do not need to pay to watch. You can also bring your mobile telephone, but please check with staff that this is ok to use.
Please ask staff on the ward about this free service. A laptop is also available in the room.
A CD player is available for you to use while you are in hospital. Please feel free to bring your own CDs from home.
When will I have my treatment?
Your treatment will be given to you in your room on the afternoon of your admission, usually at about 3.00pm.