DOI: 10.1186/s13550-017-0356-2Pages: 1-11

Biokinetics, dosimetry, and radiation risk in infants after 99mTc-MAG3 scans

1. University Hospital Würzburg, Department of Nuclear Medicine

Correspondence to:
J. Soares Machado
Tel: +49-931-20144420




Renal scans are among the most frequent exams performed on infants and toddlers. Due to the young age, this patient group can be classified as a high-risk group with a higher probability for developing stochastic radiation effects compared to adults. As there are only limited data on biokinetics and dosimetry in this patient group, the aim of this study was to reassess the dosimetry and the associated radiation risk for infants undergoing 99mTc-MAG3 renal scans based on a retrospective analysis of existing patient data.

Consecutive data were collected from 20 patients younger than 20 months (14 males; 6 females) with normal renal function undergoing 99mTc-MAG3 scans. To estimate the patient-specific organ activity, a retrospective calibration was performed based on a set of two 3D-printed infant kidneys filled with known activities. Both phantoms were scanned at different positions along the anteroposterior axis inside a water phantom, providing depth- and size-dependent attenuation correction factors for planar imaging. Time-activity curves were determined by drawing kidney, bladder, and whole-body regions-of-interest for each patient, and subsequently applying the calibration factor for conversion of counts to activity. Patient-specific time-integrated activity coefficients were obtained by integrating the organ-specific time-activity curves. Absorbed and effective dose coefficients for each patient were assessed with OLINDA/EXM for the provided newborn and 1-year-old model. The risk estimation was performed individually for each of the 20 patients with the NCI Radiation Risk Assessment Tool.


The mean age of the patients was 7.0 ± 4.5 months, with a weight between 5 and 12 kg and a body size between 60 and 89 cm. The injected activities ranged from 12 to 24 MBq of 99mTc-MAG3. The patients’ organ-specific mean absorbed dose coefficients were 0.04 ± 0.03 mGy/MBq for the kidneys and 0.27 ± 0.24 mGy/MBq for the bladder. The mean effective dose coefficient was 0.02 ± 0.02 mSv/MBq. Based on the dosimetry results, an evaluation of the excess lifetime risk for the development of radiation-induced cancer showed that the group of newborns has a risk of 16.8 per 100,000 persons, which is about 12% higher in comparison with the 1-year-old group with 14.7 per 100,000 persons (all values are given as mean plus/minus one standard deviation except otherwise specified).


In this study, we retrospectively derived new data on biokinetics and dosimetry for infants with normal kidney function after undergoing renal scans with 99mTc-MAG3. In addition, we analyzed the associated age- and gender-specific excess lifetime risk due to ionizing radiation. The radiation-associated stochastic risk increases with the organ doses, taking age- and gender-specific influences into account. Overall, the lifetime radiation risk associated with the 99mTc-MAG3 scans is very low in comparison to the general population risk for developing cancer.

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  • Accepted: Dec 28, 2017
  • Online: Feb 2, 2018

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