Iodine-125 Seeds & Cremation

A new paper, below, prompted this cheerful little post.

Concerns an autopsy in Japan where:

"We returned the excised prostate and seeds to the body."

"We should have removed the radioactive seeds from the body to prevent radiation exposure to the bereaved family and/or environmental pollution due to cremation."

Seems like a reasonable concern, but cremation with seeds must have happened tens of thousands of times. Anyone know if it really is an issue?

-Patrick

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/278...

J Forensic Sci. 2016 Nov 22. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.13296. [Epub ahead of print]

Lessons Learned from Autopsying an Unidentified Body with Iodine-125 Seeds Implanted for Prostate Brachytherapy.

Idota N1, Nakamura M1, Masui K2, Kakiuchi Y1, Yamada K2, Ikegaya H1.

Author information

1Department of Forensic Medicine, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, 465 Kajii-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8566, Japan.

2Department of Radiology, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, 465 Kajii-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8566, Japan.

Abstract

We report here lessons learned from an autopsy case involving radioactive materials. We performed an autopsy of an unidentified mummified man with no available medical history whom from imaging findings we suspected had received radioactive seed implants for prostate brachytherapy. We returned the excised prostate and seeds to the body. A few days later, the body was identified by DNA matching and cremated. According to the man's medical record, he had undergone iodine-125 seeds implantation for prostate cancer 11 months earlier. We should have removed the radioactive seeds from the body to prevent radiation exposure to the bereaved family and/or environmental pollution due to cremation. Surprisingly, one seed was found in the stored prostate specimen. Forensic experts should be cognizant of the risk of both radiation exposure in the autopsy room and environmental pollution. We must remain abreast of the latest advances in medicine.

© 2016 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

KEYWORDS:

autopsy; brachytherapy; cremation; forensic science; prostate cancer; radiation exposure; risk management

PMID: 27874186 DOI: 10.1111/1556-4029.13296

[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

8 Replies

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  • Thats "way out there".

  • Finding something deadly in the dead!

    It certainly adds to our grief and agonies!

    On the contrary, prevention of environmental pollution is a collective responsibility under whatever circumstances.

    It is one way of respecting the dead.

    Thanks Patrick.

    Sisira ( my true name )

  • With a half-life of 60.2 days, that iodine dose would be down to less than 1/32nd (~3%) of the original dose at 11 months. The most conservative precautions surrounding brachytherapy suggest minimizing (not prohibiting) close contact with children and pregnant women for only 2 months. Guidance for passing a seed during urination is simply double-flush the toilet -- not to capture and return it for a radiologically safe disposal. Plus I-125 is not highly penetrative. This suggests to me that the paper while raising a credible concern is over-stating the danger in this particular situation. Certainly it would be useful to those doing autopsy and cremation to have the facts about implanted seeds, their location, and their history in case they might be fresh and new, or if some other isotope were used.

  • Nice response. -Patrick

  • Ain''t touching this one--Happy Thanksgiving

    Nalakrats

  • Well I got gold in my little walnut, I'll see what it's worth in today's paper. Just think, someday someone's going to come into a really, really, small fortune.

    Happy Turkey Day, Joe

  • No big deal. Half-life is almost consumed.

    GD

  • That's why I'm leaving my ashes to my ex-wife....

    Happy Turkey Day.

    j-o-h-n Thursday, 11/24/2016 11:17 AM EST