The internet's role in a biodosimetric response to a radiation mass casualty event

  • Sugarman S
  • Livingston G
  • Stricklin D
 et al. 
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Abstract

Response to a large-scale radiological incident could require timely medical interventions to minimize radiation casualties. Proper medical care requires knowing the victim's radiation dose. When physical dosimetry is absent, radiation-specific chromosome aberration analysis can serve to estimate the absorbed dose in order to assist physicians in the medical management of radiation injuries. A mock exercise scenario was presented to six participating biodosimetry laboratories as one individual acutely exposed to Co under conditions suggesting whole-body exposure. The individual was not wearing a dosimeter and within 2-3 h of the incident began vomiting. The individual also had other medical symptoms indicating likelihood of a significant dose. Physicians managing the patient requested a dose estimate in order to develop a treatment plan. Participating laboratories in North and South America, Europe, and Asia were asked to evaluate more than 800 electronic images of metaphase cells from the patient to determine the dicentric yield and calculate a dose estimate with 95% confidence limits. All participants were blind to the physical dose until after submitting their estimates based on the dicentric chromosome assay (DCA). The exercise was successful since the mean biological dose estimate was 1.89 Gy whereas the actual physical dose was 2 Gy. This is well within the requirements for guidance of medical management. The exercise demonstrated that the most labor-intensive step in the entire process (visual evaluation of images) can be accelerated by taking advantage of world-wide expertise available on the Internet.

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