Nuclear Medicine Unit
Ninewells Hospital & Medical School

Information for Patients

MIBG Therapy

What is MIBG Therapy?

MIBG Therapy is used as part of the treatment for certain types of cancer.

MIBG is the name of the chemical we use. It stands for Meta-Iodo-Benzyl-Guanidine.

It is used to treat cancers formed from the same sorts of tissues as found in the adrenal glands. Examples include:

How does the treatment work?

Before injection, the MIBG is attached to radioiodine. This is a form of iodine that is radioactive. The MIBG chemical is taken up by the cancer.  The cancer cells are then killed off by the radioactivity. No surgery is involved. Your doctor considers that this is the best form of treatment for you.

What preparation is there?

Normally, the thyroid takes up iodine. Because we want the MIBG to go to the cancer and not to the thyroid, we will ask you to take a medicine before and during the treatment. The medicine will ‘block’ the thyroid while the treatment takes effect.

Where else does the radioactivity go?

Most of the iodine is taken up by the cancer.  The rest of the iodine mainly passes out of your body in the urine.

What is involved in the treatment?

Because the amount of MIBG used is quite large, you will need to stay in the hospital for a few days.

So that you will pass on as little radiation as possible to others, you will have a special suite to yourself. You will have a TV set and your own bathroom.

How is the MIBG given?

You will be given the MIBG by intravenous injection. The MIBG needs to be put into the body slowly. Therefore, we will place the syringe into a syringe driver. The injection will take about one hour.

When will I be discharged?

At various points, a member of the Medical Physics staff will measure how radioactive you are by holding a detector towards you.

We will discharge you when the amount of radioactivity in your body has reduced to a specific level as defined by legislation.

The majority of patients are discharged after three or four days.

What happens after I am discharged from hospital?

When you leave hospital, you will still be slightly radioactive. In order to keep the amount of radioactivity you pass on to others to a minimum, we will ask you to observe a few precautions.

Special arrangements may be required for your transport home

You may travel home by public transport if your journey takes less than an hour.

You may travel home by private transport, with a maximum of one other person in the car. You may drive yourself. If you are travelling with someone else, please ensure that you are seated diagonally opposite to the other person.

An ambulance will be organised for you if necessary.

Travelling on public and private transport

For the week after your discharge, please avoid travelling on public transport as much as possible. This is to avoid being next to the same person for too long, e.g. greater than one hour. If you do use public transport during the first week after your discharge, try to ensure that you do not spend, for any one journey, more than 1/2 an hour on a bus, train or aeroplane. For the second week avoid very long journeys, i.e. lasting more than 7 hours.

There are no problems with private transport. Although, in the first few days, if you are sharing a car with a friend or member of your family, try to keep journey times short.

Length of other precautions

The following paragraphs detail other precautions we ask you to take. The length of time they need to be observed will be calculated when you are ready for discharge.

Contact with your spouse/partner

It is advisable that you make arrangements to sleep apart from your partner for a few days.

Contact with family and friends at home

For the first few days you should limit contact with pregnant women and children under 18 years of age to that which is essential.

Contact with children

It would be a good idea if you could arrange for your very young children to stay with relatives or friends for the first few after your discharge if this is at all possible.

You should avoid prolonged close contact with any children for a few days

By close contact we mean to be at a distance of less than a metre or 3 feet. It is safe to be in the same room as children but do not hold them close to you or sit next to them for long periods. Do not let children sleep beside you.

Places of entertainment

Avoid going to places of entertainment for a few days after your discharge.

Returning to work

It would be best if you did not return to work for a few days. Although this is recommended, it is not essential in every case, (please read further). If there are problems in doing this, please discuss this with the doctor or physicist.

If your normal employment involves close contact with children or pregnant women you should remain off work for a days .

If your work involves close contact with adults (e.g. standing within one metre of the same person for more than one hour each day) or preparing food you should stay off for a few days.

If your employer is involved with any type of work which might be affected by radiation, you should notify him/her that you are undergoing treatment with radioactive material.

If you need more information or have any queries do not hesitate to mention them to your doctor at the clinic.

You can obtain more information about the radiation aspects of the by phoning the Nuclear Medicine Unit.

For any other enquiries Please ask your GP.

Links to other pages:     


Endocrine Entry



NHS Tayside; 2006; version 1.0

Disclaimer; no liability whatsoever is accepted for information given and all such information, especially with regard to drug usage (UK version provided), must be checked with a person’s health provider.

The procedures described above are those followed by the Nuclear Medicine Unit at Ninewells Hospital & Medical School, Dundee, United Kingdom.  Practice elsewhere may be different.  The unit serves patients from Tayside and North Fife.  Patients from elsewhere should refer to their local clinicians for advice.