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Garron Family Cancer Centre

What to expect during MIBG Therapy at SickKids?

SickKids is one of only two centres in Canada offering MIBG therapy.  Listed below are frequently asked questions about to expect during MIBG therapy at SickKids.

What will the MIBG Suite look like? 
Who is allowed to visit with my child?
How will my child feel during the MIBG therapy? 
How long will my child be in the hospital? 
Will my child’s and my personal belongings need to be thrown away after treatment? 
What other safety measures are necessary? 

What will the MIBG Suite look like? 

The room is located on the Oncology unit on the 8th Floor (8A).  It has lead lined walls, floor, ceiling, doors and multiple mobile lead shields around your child’s bed, and dividing the room between your child’s bed and the caregiver’s designated area to provide additional protection to the caregivers and staff who are providing care and support during treatment. These shields can easily be seen over when standing so your child can see you.  Most surfaces will be covered with a thick plastic. 

The MIBG Suite has a designated caregiver area within the room. This will provide you with a safe and comfortable area to be in close proximity to your child, to be able to provide care and support to your child and to be able to sleep in the room.  A dosimeter will be present to measure the radiation levels emitted by your child to assist in guiding the amount of direct contact allowed between you and your child.

We have a Caregiver Education Guidebook and video that patients and families can review ahead of time to start getting adjusted. Click here to learn more.

Click the image below to view a picture gallery of the MIBG clinic.

MIBG Clinic

Who is allowed to visit with my child?

We recommend that two caregivers be available during the hospital stay to provide much of the care and support to your child. Only one caregiver is permitted in the room at a time. Caregivers will wear dosimeters to ensure they are within a safe radiation level - direct contact with your child will be restricted based on Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Regulations (CNSC). A chair bed is provided in a designated area of the room for one caregiver to stay overnight.

Those who are pregnant or under age 18 are NOT allowed in the room. 

At SickKids, we are also committed to partnering with you, as your child’s caregiver, recognizing the essential role you play in providing your child’s day-to-day care and support.   Our nurse practitioner and radiation safety staff will also provide teaching to help you prepare for your child’s stay, to review the care that you will be expected to provide to your child during his/her hospital stay, and ways to minimize radiation exposure.

How will my child feel during the MIBG therapy? 

Generally, children who come in feeling well, usually continue to feel well during the treatment.  Your child will not be able to feel the specialized medicine in his/her body. The main side effect of MIBG therapy is lowered counts, approximately 2 weeks following  your child’s treatment

For most families, the biggest challenge is planning how to deal with your child's isolation and boredom while having to stay in the hospital bed. The room will have a video game system, television/DVD,  ipad and wifi access and age-appropriate creative activities/games that can be thrown away. Our social work, child life, and Camp Oochigeas staff will work with you and your child to prepare and to plan activities to keep your child distracted for the period of isolation.

How long will my child be in the hospital? 

Your child’s inpatient stay will be approximately five to seven days. The IV infusion of 131I-MIBG is given on Day 1 and lasts about one to two hours. Following the infusion, your child will have minimal contact with their caregivers and hospital staff during the time that it takes for their body to get rid of the radiation (mostly through the urine/catheter). Your child will be ready for discharge when the amount of radioactivity has dropped to a safe level.

Upon discharge, your child will continue to have a minimal radioactivity so he/she will have to travel directly home and you will need to follow safety guidelines at home.  After 131I-MIBG treatment your child will also be followed carefully with blood counts and scans.

Will my child’s and my personal belongings need to be thrown away after treatment? 

No.  However, anything your child comes into contact with or contaminates (by body fluids) will need to be discarded.  Caregiver’s belongings should remain safe if kept behind the lead shields.  We would encourage you not to bring anything that you and your child consider to be of value or is not able to be replaced just in case it is contaminated.

Our social work, child life, and Camp Oochigeas staff will work with you and your child to prepare and to plan activities to keep your child distracted during his/her admission.

What other safety measures are necessary? 

All caregivers and staff will wear dosimeters to ensure that they do not go above a safe radiation level.  All those providing care to your child will wear disposable gowns, gloves and shoe coverings.  Your child will have a Foley catheter placed to limit radiation exposure to your child and his/her bladder.  Your child will remain in bed for most of the treatment time.

Please refer to the SickKids MIBG Caregiver Education Guidebook for more detail information.