United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
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Radiopharmaceutical

A pharmaceutical drug that emits radiation and is used in diagnostic or therapeutic medical procedures. Radioisotopes that have short half-lives are generally preferred to minimize the radiation dose to the patient and the risk of prolonged exposure. In most cases, these short-lived radioisotopes decay to stable elements within minutes, hours, or days, allowing patients to be released from the hospital in a relatively short time.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, October 28, 2014