Sentinel node

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Date:Fri, 24 Sep 1999 00:23:31 EDT
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A number of people have referred to "technetium" as having a half life of 60 

Technetium 99m, the metastable isotope given to the patient, has a half life 
of six hours. (Thus 60 hours is ten half-lives, often arbitrarily chosen as 
the point at which a radioisotope is for practical purposes gone.) Apparently 
managers have confused these two values. (Managers are often confused about 

Technetium 99m emits a gamma particle and becomes technetium 99, which has a 
half life of six million years. This very long half life means that the 
amount of radiation it emits is negligible.

When I discussed this matter with some radiation safety people two years ago, 
they informed me that no special precautions were needed in handling surgical 
specimens containing diagnostic quantities of technetium.

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN

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