Diagnostic Radiology Procedures on Breastfeeding Patients

Policy

It is the policy of Diagnostic Radiology to routinely ask all women of childbearing years (refer to Nursing Policy – childbearing years defined as 10 – 60 years old) if they are pregnant or breastfeeding in all areas of Diagnostic Radiology, with the exception of Ultrasound.

Procedure

If the patient indicates that they are not breastfeeding, routine imaging proceeds.

If the patient is breastfeeding:

  • For all non-contrast exams, excluding Nuclear Medicine exams, routine imaging proceeds.
  • For all IV iodinated contrast and gadolinium, American College of Radiology (ACR) guidelines state that contrast administration to the mother is considered safe for both the baby and nursing mother. Mothers who are breastfeeding should be given the opportunity to make an informed decision as to whether to continue or temporarily abstain from breastfeeding after receiving IV contrast. If the mother remains concerned about any potential ill effects to the infant, she may abstain from breast-feeding for 24 hours with active expression and discarding of breast milk from both breasts during that period. In anticipation of this, she may wish to use a breast pump to obtain milk before the contrast study to feed the infant during the 24-hour period following the examination.
  • For all breast-feeding patients who are scheduled for Nuclear Medicine exams and/or procedures, the DR attending physician must be consulted prior to any testing performed.

The DR attending physician will discuss with the patient’s attending if the exam should be postponed, canceled, or if the procedure will be performed.

  • Patients who have a Tc-99m nuclear medicine procedure should not let their infants’ breastfeed for 72 hours after the exam. During this 72 hour period they can pump the breast milk and store it. This milk can be given to the infant after it has been stored for 72 hours. The patient only needs to pump and store the breast milk for 72 hours after the exam has been completed. The milk does not need to be discarded because of the nuclear test.
  • For patients who can have the exam postponed, the patient can pump prior to returning for the test and freeze the milk. This stored milk can be given to the infant when the patient returns for the exam. Immediately following the exam, the patient should continue to pump the breast milk for 72 hours and properly stored so that the isotope has time to decay prior to giving it to the infant.
  • For other radioisotopes, consult with the NM attending physician or RSO regarding appropriate waiting period before resuming breast-feeding or using stored breast milk.