Radiation Protection Today Summer 2023 | Page 5

Changes in the Application of Radiation and Radioactive Materials in the Last 60 Years
The 60 years since SRP was established have seen very substantial changes in the application of radiation and radioactive materials . Here are a few highlights .
Medicine In the early years of the Society , state-of-theart imaging consisted of taking an X-ray using a photographic film , which had to be developed before it could be viewed .
The fluoroscopic room , with image intensification ( X-ray television ), 1964 . It was typical of the period . Source : Dr Adrian Thomas
Images are now mostly captured digitally , allowing them to be displayed instantaneously , even remotely . New imaging techniques have also been developed , such as Computerised Tomography ( CT ) which allows high quality three-dimensional ( even moving ) images to be generated .
A modern CT scanner
Radiation Protection Today Summer 2023
The dose to patients from a CT scan is greater than from a simple X-ray , but this is justified by the much improved diagnostic capability .
Radiotherapy for cancer treatment was already in widespread use in 1963 , but the last 60 years have seen some key changes , including the replacement of sealed sources with linear accelerator ( linac ) X-ray generators , coupled with better targeting of the radiation dose . Recent years have also seen the introduction of specialist techniques , such as proton beam therapy which reduce collateral dose to non-targeted tissues , allowing the treatment of tumours in sensitive locations such as the brain and eyes .
Administration of radioactive materials to patients for diagnosis or treatment has also developed from research to established clinical practice , with nuclear medicine becoming a recognised clinical specialism in the 1970s . Linked to this has been expansion in the production of radiopharmaceuticals . The development of commercial Technetium-99m ( Tc-99m ) generators coupled with improvements in gamma cameras ( a device used to image gamma radiation emitting radioisotopes ) in the late 1960s led to the rapid growth of nuclear medical imaging and Tc-99m remains the most utilised isotope for this purpose today . Worldwide production is reliant on a small number of research reactors , and shutdowns have led to global supply shortages over the years . More recently developed techniques such as single photon emission computed tomography ( SPECT ) and positron emission tomography ( PET ) utilise shorter-lived radionuclides which are produced in cyclotrons .
Nuclear Industry The lifetime of the Society spans the lifecycle of civil nuclear power in the UK . There were four Magnox power stations operating at the