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Health Phys. 2010 Feb;98(2):95-108. doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e3181b8cffd.

A critical assessment of biodosimetry methods for large-scale incidents.

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The EPR Center for Viable Systems, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.


Recognition is growing regarding the possibility that terrorism or large-scale accidents could result in potential radiation exposure of hundreds of thousands of people and that the present guidelines for evaluation after such an event are seriously deficient. Therefore, there is a great and urgent need for after-the-fact biodosimetric methods to estimate radiation dose. To accomplish this goal, the dose estimates must be at the individual level, timely, accurate, and plausibly obtained in large-scale disasters. This paper evaluates current biodosimetry methods, focusing on their strengths and weaknesses in estimating human radiation exposure in large-scale disasters at three stages. First, the authors evaluate biodosimetry's ability to determine which individuals did not receive a significant exposure so they can be removed from the acute response system. Second, biodosimetry's capacity to classify those initially assessed as needing further evaluation into treatment-level categories is assessed. Third, we review biodosimetry's ability to guide treatment, both short- and long-term, is reviewed. The authors compare biodosimetric methods that are based on physical vs. biological parameters and evaluate the features of current dosimeters (capacity, speed and ease of getting information, and accuracy) to determine which are most useful in meeting patients' needs at each of the different stages. Results indicate that the biodosimetry methods differ in their applicability to the three different stages, and that combining physical and biological techniques may sometimes be most effective. In conclusion, biodosimetry techniques have different properties, and knowledge of their properties for meeting the different needs for different stages will result in their most effective use in a nuclear disaster mass-casualty event.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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